Life Science Hour Seminar Series

Name:Katie Hinde
Affiliation:Arizona State University
Title:Older than dinosaurs: mammalian milk in evolutionary and ecological context
Date:Friday, 28 September 2018
Location:Murie Life Science Bldg, Murie Auditorium.


Mother’s milk has been shaped by hundreds of millions of years of natural selection. Although some reptiles, fish, birds, amphibians, and insects produce "milk" to nourish their young, uniquely among animal classes, only for the mammals is the synthesis of complex biofluid obligate for infants to survive and thrive. As a complexly structured food, medicine, and signal, milk nourishes, protects, and informs the developing neonate through nutrients, immunofactors, and hormones. Long-term research at the Comparative Lactation Lab and the California National Primate Research Center has produced >1000 milk samples from hundreds of rhesus macaque mothers (Macaca mulatta). From this research, we demonstrated that fats, proteins, sugars, minerals, hormones, microbes, and other constituents in mother’s milk are highly variable. Additionally milk nutrients and hormones seem to intergratively guide developmental tradeoffs between personality, cognition, and growth in progeny during early life organization. This early life organization is associated with fitness outcomes including survival, growth, and reproduction. Lastly, numerous hypotheses have been advanced to predict how mothers will differentially invest these limited resources in sons and daughters, however few studies have addressed sex-differentiated milk synthesis. Here I will summarize the evidence for different “biological recipes” in milk produced for sons and daughters and further review that even in the absence of different milk compositions produced by mothers, sex-differentiated mechanisms for assimilation of milk constituents may yield sex-differentiated outcomes. Taken together, this growing body of evidence refines and extends our understanding of how life history tradeoffs manifest in the behavioral biology of lactation.

About the Speaker:

Katie Hinde is an Associate Professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Center for Evolution and Medicine, at Arizona State University. As Director of the Comparative Lactation Lab, she investigates the adaptively relevant environment of the developing mammalian infant- the mother and her milk- to understand early life organization. She earned a B.A. in anthropology from the University of Washington in 1999 and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from UCLA in 2008. From 2009-2011, she trained as a post-doc in neuroscience at the California National Primate Research Center, UC Davis and began her faculty career as an Assistant Professor in Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University 2011-2015. In addition to her scholarly publications, Hinde co-edited “Building Babies: Primate Developmental Trajectories in Proximate and Ultimate Perspective” released by Springer in 2013, is an associate editor and writer for SPLASH! Milk Science Update, and served on the executive council for the International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation (2013-2016). She showcases research on mother’s milk, breastfeeding, and lactation for the general public, clinicians, and researchers at her blog “Mammals Suck… Milk!” She is also the founder, director, and Editor-in-Chief for March Mammal Madness, an annual month-long production of performance science.

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