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  1. Abstract

    Xenoestrogens are chemicals found in plant products, such as genistein (GEN), and in industrial chemicals, e.g., bisphenol A (BPA), present in plastics and other products that are prevalent in the environment. Early exposure to such endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC) may affect brain development by directly disrupting neural programming and/or through the microbiome-gut-brain axis. To test this hypothesis, California mice (Peromyscus californicus) offspring were exposed through the maternal diet to GEN (250 mg/kg feed weight) or BPA (5 mg/kg feed weight, low dose- LD or 50 mg/kg, upper dose-UD), and dams were placed on these diets two weeks prior to breeding, throughout gestation, and lactation. Various behaviors, gut microbiota, and fecal metabolome were assessed at 90 days of age. The LD but not UD of BPA exposure resulted in individuals spending more time engaging in repetitive behaviors. GEN exposed individuals were more likely to exhibit such behaviors and showed socio-communicative disturbances. BPA and GEN exposed females had increased number of metabolites involved in carbohydrate metabolism and synthesis. Males exposed to BPA or GEN showed alterations in lysine degradation and phenylalanine and tyrosine metabolism. Current findings indicate cause for concern that developmental exposure to BPA or GEN might affect the microbiome-gut-brain axis.

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  2. Abstract

    The mechanisms connecting environmental conditions to plasticity in biological aging trajectories are fundamental to understanding individual variation in functional traits and life history. Recent findings suggest that telomere biology is especially dynamic during early life stages and has long‐term consequences for subsequent reproduction and survival. However, our current understanding is mostly derived from studies investigating ecological and anthropogenic factors separately, leaving the effects of complex environmental interactions unresolved. American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) are long‐lived apex predators that rely on incubation temperature during a discrete period during development and endocrine cues to determine sex, making them especially vulnerable to current climatic variability and exposure to anthropogenic contaminants interfering with hormone function. Here, we combine field studies with a factorial design to understand how the developmental environment, along with intrinsic biological variation contribute to persistent telomere variation. We found that exposure to a common endocrine disrupting contaminant, DDE, affects telomere length, but that the directionality is highly dependent upon incubation temperature. Variation in hatchling growth, underlies a strong clutch effect. We also assess concentrations of a panel of glucocorticoid hormones and find that contaminant exposure elicits an increase in circulating glucocorticoids. Consistent with emerging evidence linking stress and aging trajectories, GC levels also appear to trend with shorter telomere length. Thus, we add support for a mechanistic link between contaminants and glucocorticoid signalling, which interacts with ecological aspects of the developmental environment to alter telomere dynamics.

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