MHC-correlated preferences in diestrous female horses (Equus caballus)

Burger, Dominik; Meuwly, C.; Marti, Eliane Isabelle; Sieme, H.; Oberthür, M.; Janda, Jozef; Meinecke-Tillmann, S.; Wedekind, C. (2017). MHC-correlated preferences in diestrous female horses (Equus caballus) (Submitted). Theriogenology, 89, 318-323.e1. Elsevier 10.1016/j.theriogenology.2016.09.015

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Genes of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) have been shown to influence communication in many vertebrates, possibly with context-specific MHC-correlated reactions. Here we test for MHC-linked female preferences in the polygynous horse (Equus caballus) by repeatedly exposing 19 mares to a group of seven sexually experienced stallions. Each mare was tested four times during two consecutive reproductive cycles, twice during estrus and twice during diestrus. Male plasma testosterone concentrations were determined from weekly blood samples, and equine leukocyte antigen (ELA) class I and II alleles were determined serologically at the end of the experiments. Perception of male attractiveness was strongly dependent on estrous cycle: mean preference scores did not correlate for mares in diestrus and estrus and varied more during estrus than during diestrus. We found elevated female interests for MHC-dissimilar stallions, but only during diestrus, not during estrus. Female preferences were not significantly predicted by mean male testosterone plasma concentrations. However, testosterone concentrations changed during the 11 weeks of the experiment. By the end of the experiment, average testosterone concentration was significantly correlated to the average number of MHC alleles the stallions shared with the mares. We conclude that the MHC affects female preferences for stallions, but non-MHC linked male characteristics can overshadow effects of the MHC during estrus.

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; Marti, Eliane Isabelle and Janda, Jozef

Subjects:

600 Technology > 630 Agriculture

ISSN:

0093-691X

Publisher:

Elsevier

Language:

English

Submitter:

Andrea Gassmann-Suter

Date Deposited:

06 Jul 2017 11:28

Last Modified:

06 Jul 2017 11:28

Publisher DOI:

10.1016/j.theriogenology.2016.09.015

PubMed ID:

27842717

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.93157

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/93157

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