In this podcast, Dr. Michael Skinner, School of Biological Sciences at Washington State University, discusses epigenetic transgenerational inheritance and the potential long term impact of toxins.
Dr. Skinner discusses his research within the area of epigenetic transgenerational inheritance. He explains the different ways males versus females are potentially impacted. He outlines how gestating females may be exposed to toxins, and what type of affect exposure can have on not only the offspring but future generations as well.
Dr. Skinner discusses the various types of toxins, toxins that could come via our nutrition, from factors such as smoking and alcohol, and of course detrimental environmental toxicants. The biological expert’s work centers upon the study of gonadal growth and differentiation, as it pertains to reproductive biology.
The Ph.D. talks about the differences between men and women in terms of how they are affected. Dr. Skinner explains that men ‘turn over’ their sperm at a rapid rate, and that a man’s environmental exposures can change the epigenetics of the stem cell within, that produces the sperm. This change could then impact all the subsequent sperm that is generated thereafter. Additionally, Dr. Skinner discusses how females are affected by toxins, and how the research shows that females have an ability to somewhat ward themselves against environmental toxins, etc. and are therefore more resistant.
Dr. Skinner recounts some of their research with the finches on the Galápagos Islands. Some of the finches there, as he explains, showed changes within their phenotypes—alterations of metabolism, color, beak structures, and more, even though the genetics was the same for all the finches across all sites. After their research was complete they were then able to say with confidence that environmental epigenetics does generate a shift in the phenotype that is independent of the internal genetics.