Mate choice for neutral and MHC genetic characteristics in Alpine marmots: different targets in different contexts?

Mariona Ferrandiz-Rovira, Dominique Allainé, Marie Pierre Callait-Cardinal, Aurélie Cohas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

© 2016 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Sexual selection through female mate choice for genetic characteristics has been suggested to be an important evolutionary force maintaining genetic variation in animal populations. However, the genetic targets of female mate choice are not clearly identified and whether female mate choice is based on neutral genetic characteristics or on particular functional loci remains an open question. Here, we investigated the genetic targets of female mate choice in Alpine marmots (Marmota marmota), a socially monogamous mammal where extra-pair paternity (EPP) occurs. We used 16 microsatellites to describe neutral genetic characteristics and two MHC loci belonging to MHC class I and II as functional genetic characteristics. Our results reveal that (1) neutral and MHC genetic characteristics convey different information in this species, (2) social pairs show a higher MHC class II dissimilarity than expected under random mate choice, and (3) the occurrence of EPP increases when social pairs present a high neutral genetic similarity or dissimilarity but also when they present low MHC class II dissimilarity. Thus, female mate choice is based on both neutral and MHC genetic characteristics, and the genetic characteristics targeted seem to be context dependent (i.e., the genes involved in social mate choice and genetic mate choice differ). We emphasize the need for empirical studies of mate choice in the wild using both neutral and MHC genetic characteristics because whether neutral and functional genetic characteristics convey similar information is not universal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4243-4257
JournalEcology and Evolution
Volume6
Issue number13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016

Keywords

  • Extra-pair paternity
  • Marmota marmota
  • inbreeding avoidance
  • major histocompatibility complex
  • mate choice
  • sexual selection

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