Are large wattles related to particular MHC genotypes in the male pheasant?
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In sexually dimorphic species, partners can assess heritable mate quality by analyzing costly sexual ornaments in terms of their dimension and possibly of their symmetry. In vertebrates an important aspect of genetic quality is the efficiency of the immune system, and in particular the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC). If ornaments are honest advertisements of pathogen resistance (good genes), in line with the Hamilton-Zuk hypothesis, a correlation between ornament expression and MHC profiles should exist. We tested this hypothesis in the common pheasant Phasianus colchicus by comparing male ornament characteristics (wattle and spur size, and wattle fluctuating asymmetry) with a portion of exon 2 of the class IIB MHC genes containing 19 putative antigen recognition sites. A total of 8 new alleles was observed in the MHCPhco exon IIB. We found significant differences in the occurrence of MHC genotypes between males carrying large or small wattles. Homozygous genotypes predicted large wattle males more correctly than small wattle males. The association between the dimension of the spur and the occurrence of MHC genotypes was marginally significant, however, we did not find any significant association between MHC genotypes and asymmetry. Our results suggest that female pheasants may use the ornament size as a cue to evaluate male quality and thus choose males carrying particular MHC profiles.
- Are large wattles related to particular MHC genotypes in the male pheasant?
Volume 138, Issue 6 , pp 657-665
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- Springer Netherlands
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- Good genes
- Hamilton-Zuk hypothesis
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- Author Affiliations
- 1. Institute for Ecosystem Study, C.N.R., Via Madonna del Piano 10, 50019, Sesto Fiorentino (Firenze), Italy
- 2. Department of Evolutionary Biology “L. Pardi”, University of Florence, Via Romana 17, 50125, Florence, Italy
- 3. Department of Ecosystem and Public Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada