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USA-The role of immunesystem (MHC genes) in mating behaviour

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Scientific summary Mating patterns and life history trade-offs may profoundly influence population differentiation and as such the phenotype of individuals. In the sex role reversed pipefish (Syngnathus typhle) both males and females make adaptive mate ch oices producing high quality offspring, even when controlling for known preferred traits. Most of the immune system?s genetic variation is located at the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), which contains several linked genes that encode cell surface MHC receptors. Each variant of the MHC receptor is able to bind only a limited number of different peptides (antigens), and different MHC alleles thus allow the presentation of a different set of antigens. The mutual mate choice that has been found may b e based on MHC genes: many offspring are lost during a males pregnancy, possibly due to unfavourable MHC combinations. If so, a disassortative mutual MHC based mate choice may be beneficial. If we could be able to MHC type males and females, we could in f uture projects mate them in various combinations and follow embryo fate. This could then shed light on how and why local populations differ, and how such differences may be maintained through mate choice, phenotypic plasticity, local selection and/or lear ning and the establishment of a local culture.



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