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Mate choice decisions of stickleback females predictably modified by MHC peptide ligands

MPS-Authors
http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons56825

Milinski,  Manfred
Department Evolutionary Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons56697

Griffiths,  Siân
Department Evolutionary Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons56989

Wegner,  K. Mathias
Department Evolutionary Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons56884

Reusch,  Thorsten B. H.
Department Ecophysiology, Max Planck Institute for Limnology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;
Department Evolutionary Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Milinski, M., Griffiths, S., Wegner, K. M., Reusch, T. B. H., Haas-Assenbaum, A., & Boehm, T. (2005). Mate choice decisions of stickleback females predictably modified by MHC peptide ligands. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 102(12), 4414-4418. doi:10.1073/pnas.0408264102.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-000F-D9DF-4
Abstract
Sexual selection has been proposed as one mechanism to explain the maintenance of high allelic diversity in MHC genes that control the extent of resistance against pathogens and parasites in natural populations. MHC-based sexual selection is known to involve olfactory mechanisms in fish, mice, and humans. During mate choice, females of the three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) use an odor-based selection strategy to achieve an optimal level of MHC diversity in their offspring, equipping them with optimal resistance toward pathogens and parasites. The molecular mechanism of odor-based mate-selection strategies is unknown. Because peptide ligands for MHC class I molecules function as individuality signals in mice, we hypothesized that female sticklebacks might assess the degree of MHC diversity of potential partners by means of the structural diversity of the corresponding peptide ligands in perceived odor signals. We show that structurally diverse MIHC ligands interact with natural odors of male sticklebacks to predictably modify MHC-related mate choice. For a mating pair with suboptimal numbers of MHC alleles, peptides increase the attractiveness of male water, whereas for a mating pair with superoptimal numbers, attractiveness is decreased. Our results suggest that female sticklebacks use evolutionarily conserved structural features of MHC peptide ligands to evaluate MHC diversity of their prospective mating partners.