father, son, diet, reproduction
Father's diet can very well impact his son's ability to reproduce.Reuters

The old belief that only genetic material is passed to the offspring by their father has been rubbished by a research by biologists.

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Researchers have revealed that the father's diet can very well impact his son's ability to perform better than the sperm of an opponent post mating.

Researchers from Monash University, Spain-based Donana Biological Station and George Washington University carried out this probe.

The research was conducted on fruit flies to figure out whether the father's nutritional history impacted their sons in any way. The main reason to use fruit fly for this experiment was because they possess characteristics which are similar to that of human genes.

Dr Susanne Zajitschek from the School of Biological Sciences was one of the lead researchers of this study. According to Dr Zajitschek, this research emphasised how crucial the paternal environment is for future generations even way before their production.

"Our study found that males that were raised on either high or low protein diets, but spent their adulthood on an intermediate diet, produced sons that had large differences in gene expression, which most likely contributed to the resulting differences in sperm competitiveness," Dr Zajitschek said.

"They differed in their ability to sire offspring, with the high-protein dads producing sons who were doing much better in sperm competition, which means their sperm was more likely to win against a competitor's sperm within the female tract. We also found that the immune response genes were less active in sons of low-protein fathers, while metabolic and reproductive processes were increased in sons of fathers on a high protein diet," she added.

The research has been published in Biology Letters. It is one of the few studies that reveal the link between the diet consumed and the trans-generational effects. This is also a pioneering study, which explains about the post- copulatory benefits of parental diet.