The influence of oxidative stress on telomere dynamics and life history plasticity
It has long been thought that variation in life-history traits arises as a consequence of trade-offs in resource allocation. Such trade-offs are presumed to have a physiological basis, but this is poorly understood. This study will bring together three strands that have recently emerged from different disciplines. Firstly, it has been suggested that the need to manage oxidative stress might underlie a number of key life history trade-offs. Secondly, physiological research suggests that oxidative damage is an important component of tissue, and thereby organism, senescence. Thirdly, cellular based research has recently shown that telomere attrition plays an important role in cell performance and death, and that oxidative stress accelerates telomere loss. This project will bring these fields together by examining the extent to which variation in redox balance influences telomere dynamics, and thereby the costs and benefits of different life history trajectories.