Major histocompatibility complex-linked social signalling affects female fertility.

Burger, Dominik; Thomas, Selina; Aepli, H; Dreyer, M; Fabre, G; Marti, Eliane Isabelle; Sieme, H; Robinson, M R; Wedekind, C (2017). Major histocompatibility complex-linked social signalling affects female fertility. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological sciences, 284(1868) The Royal Society 10.1098/rspb.2017.1824

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Genes of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) have been shown to influence social signalling and mate preferences in many species, including humans. First observations suggest that MHC signalling may also affect female fertility. To test this hypothesis, we exposed 191 female horses (Equus caballus) to either an MHC-similar or an MHC-dissimilar stimulus male around the time of ovulation and conception. A within-subject experimental design controlled for non-MHC-linked male characteristics, and instrumental insemination with semen of other males (n = 106) controlled for potential confounding effects of semen or embryo characteristics. We found that females were more likely to become pregnant if exposed to an MHC-dissimilar than to an MHC-similar male, while overall genetic distance to the stimulus males (based on microsatellite markers on 20 chromosomes) had no effect. Our results demonstrate that early pregnancy failures can be due to maternal life-history decisions (cryptic female choice) influenced by MHC-linked social signalling.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine (DKV) > Equine Clinic
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine (DKV)
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH) > Experimental Clinical Research
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH)

UniBE Contributor:

Burger, Dominik; Thomas, Selina and Marti, Eliane Isabelle

Subjects:

600 Technology > 630 Agriculture

ISSN:

1471-2954

Publisher:

The Royal Society

Language:

English

Submitter:

Andrea Gassmann-Suter

Date Deposited:

26 Apr 2018 14:14

Last Modified:

26 Apr 2018 14:14

Publisher DOI:

10.1098/rspb.2017.1824

PubMed ID:

29212724

Uncontrolled Keywords:

cryptic female choice female reproductive strategy fertility major histocompatibility complex mammals sexual selection

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.108362

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/108362

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