Specific carotenoid pigments in the diet and a bit of oxidative stress in the recipe for producing red carotenoid-based signals

PeerJ
Esther García-de BlasCarlos Alonso-Alvarez

Abstract

Colorful ornaments have been the focus of sexual selection studies since the work of Darwin. Yellow to red coloration is often produced by carotenoid pigments. Different hypotheses have been formulated to explain the evolution of these traits as signals of individual quality. Many of these hypotheses involve the existence of a signal production cost. The carotenoids necessary for signaling can only be obtained from food. In this line, carotenoid-based signals could reveal an individual's capacity to find sufficient dietary pigments. However, the ingested carotenoids are often yellow and became transformed by the organism to produce pigments of more intense color (red ketocarotenoids). Biotransformation should involve oxidation reactions, although the exact mechanism is poorly known. We tested the hypothesis that carotenoid biotransformation could be costly because a certain level of oxidative stress is required to correctly perform the conversion. The carotenoid-based signals could thus reveal the efficiency of the owner in successfully managing this challenge. In a bird with ketocarotenoid-based ornaments (the red-legged partridge; Alectoris rufa), the availability of different carotenoids in the diet (i.e. astaxanthin, zeaxan...Continue Reading

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Sep 19, 2018·The Journal of Experimental Biology·Carlos Alonso-AlvarezRafael Mateo
Feb 7, 2018·Nature Communications·Rebecca E KochGeoffrey E Hill
Jul 18, 2019·Proceedings. Biological Sciences·Claire A McLeanDevi Stuart-Fox
Nov 11, 2020·Proceedings. Biological Sciences·Alejandro CantareroCarlos Alonso-Alvarez

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