Offspring Can Develop Features From Their Mom’s Previous Sexual Partners
In a new study, scientists found a new non-genetic form of inheritance in flies. This study proves that in flies at least, offspring could show features of their mom’s previous sex partners!
This kind of heritage is called telegony. And while it has been around since ancient Greek times, it was questioned during the 20th century with the emergence of genetics science. But now things have begun to change.
How Can A Trait Get Passed On?
Researchers suggest that the effect occurs when molecules in the seminal fluid of the first mate get absorbed by the female’s immature eggs, which then influences the development of offspring of a subsequent mate.
Previous studies suggested that semen from multiple males can interact to affect reproductive results. For instance, the presence of a prior male’s seminal products could cause the female insemination site to become a less hostile environment, affect subsequent males’ sperm performance, and enhance female fecundity.
Countless studies have covered the topic of telegony. But how does it apply to humans?
Well, here’s what Dr. Crean has to say about that:
“There is no evidence of such effects in humans, but there has not been any research on this possibility in humans. There is a potential for such effects in mammals.” And that “For example, there is a lot of fetal DNA in maternal blood during pregnancy, and this could potentially play a role in such effects. There is also evidence in mammals that seminal fluid affects offspring development, so semen from one male could potentially influence the development of eggs fertilized by another male (which is what we think is happening in flies).”
Due to ethical restrictions, it would appear unlikely a human study would be conducted to investigate further.