Animal Science Department


Date of this Version



Published in J. Anim. Sci. 2004. 82:2876–2883. Copyright © 2004 American Society of Animal Science. Used by permission.


Mouse populations differing in metabolic rate have been developed through selection for high (MH) and low (ML) heat loss, along with the unselected controls (MC). Objectives of the study were to compare the MH, ML, and MC lines for reproductive performance, pup survival, and metabolic hormones when reared at 12, 22, and 31°C, and to search for line × environment interactions. Conception and litter size were recorded on the parent generation mice introduced to the environments at 11 wk of age and bred after a 3-wk acclimatization period. Survival of pups (pre-weaning to 3 wk; post-weaning from 3 to 9 wk of age) was measured with continuous exposure in the designated environment from birth to the time of measurement. Corticosterone, triiodothyronine (T3), and thyroxine (T4) serum concentrations were measured on the parent generation after producing litters and on the pup generation at 9 wk. No line × environment interaction was detected for conception rate, preweaning mortality, postweaning survival, pup weaning weight, or body temperature. There were no differences in conception rate among lines and environments. Environments affected survival of pups, but there were no line differences. Rectal body temperatures were greater for MH than ML mice, and MC mice were intermediate; body temperature of mice did not differ among the environments. Lines differed significantly in litter size only in the 22°C environment. No significant line differences were found for serum corticosterone or serum T3 or T4. Line × environment interaction was detected only for litter size and for serum corticosterone concentration in dams. Contrary to the other two lines, ML dam performance relative to MH and MC was not affected negatively by either of the thermal environments. Results from this study do not raise concern that selection to decrease maintenance requirements will produce livestock with any greater liability to cope and perform under an array of environmental temperatures.