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Costly major histocompatibility complex signals produced only by reproductively active males, but not females, must be validated by a 'maleness signal' in three-spind sticklebacks

Milinski, Manfred, Griffiths, Sian Wyn, Reusch, Thorsten B. J. and Boehm, Thomas 2010. Costly major histocompatibility complex signals produced only by reproductively active males, but not females, must be validated by a 'maleness signal' in three-spind sticklebacks. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences 277 (1680) , pp. 391-398. 10.1098/rspb.2009.1501

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Abstract

Olfactory information about individual major histocompatibility complex (MHC) immune genotypes is important for mate choice in several species. For example, during the mate choice decisions of three-spined sticklebacks, females assess males on the basis of odour cues that convey information about their MHC diversity. Here, we show that an additional ‘maleness’ signal is needed to validate the MHC signal. Furthermore, using interaction between natural odour of sticklebacks and synthetic MHC-ligand peptides, we show that MHC signals are conditional on the reproductive state in males. By contrast, we find that gravid females do not produce such signals. Since MHC olfactory signals relevant to mate choice decisions are conditional upon gender and reproductive state, we suggest that their manufacture is likely to be costly to senders, and therefore, potentially conditional on the health/parasitization status of the sender. We hypothesize that shedding of peptide–MHC complexes compromises immune function, selecting against unconditional use of these signals.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Publisher: The Royal Society
ISSN: 0962-8452
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 02:05
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/8757

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