Cryptic preference for MHC-dissimilar females in male red junglefowl, Gallus gallus

Gillingham, Mark A. F., Richardson, David S. ORCID:, Løvlie, Hanne, Moyniham, Anna, Worley, Kirsty and Pizzari, Tom (2009) Cryptic preference for MHC-dissimilar females in male red junglefowl, Gallus gallus. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 276 (1659). pp. 1083-1092. ISSN 0962-8452

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An increasing number of studies test the idea that females increase offspring fitness by biasing fertilization in favour of genetically compatible partners; however, few have investigated or controlled for corresponding preferences in males. Here, we experimentally test whether male red junglefowl, Gallus gallus, prefer genetically compatible females, measured by similarity at the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), a key gene complex in vertebrate immune function. Theory predicts that because some degree of MHC heterozygosity favours viability, individuals should prefer partners that carry MHC alleles different from their own. While male fowl showed no preference when simultaneously presented with an MHC-similar and an MHC-dissimilar female, they showed a ‘cryptic’ preference, by allocating more sperm to the most MHC-dissimilar of two sequentially presented females. These results provide the first experimental evidence that males might respond to the MHC similarity of a female through differential ejaculate expenditure. By revealing that cryptic male behaviours may bias fertilization success in favour of genetically compatible partners, this study demonstrates the need to experimentally disentangle male and female effects when studying preferences for genetically compatible partners.

Item Type: Article
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Biological Sciences
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Science > Research Centres > Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation
Faculty of Science > Research Groups > Organisms and the Environment
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2010 13:36
Last Modified: 22 Jul 2024 04:30
DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2008.1549

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