Genetica

, Volume 138, Issue 6, pp 657–665 | Cite as

Are large wattles related to particular MHC genotypes in the male pheasant?

  • Mariella Baratti
  • Martina Ammannati
  • Claudia Magnelli
  • Alessandro Massolo
  • Francesco Dessì-Fulgheri
Article

Abstract

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.

Keywords

CE-SSCP Good genes Hamilton-Zuk hypothesis MHC Ornaments Symmetry 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mariella Baratti
    • 1
  • Martina Ammannati
    • 2
  • Claudia Magnelli
    • 2
  • Alessandro Massolo
    • 3
  • Francesco Dessì-Fulgheri
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute for Ecosystem Study, C.N.R.Sesto Fiorentino (Firenze)Italy
  2. 2.Department of Evolutionary Biology “L. Pardi”University of FlorenceFlorenceItaly
  3. 3.Department of Ecosystem and Public Health, Faculty of Veterinary MedicineUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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