Complex Mhc-based mate choice in a wild passerine

C Bonneaud, O Chastel, P Federici, Helena Westerdahl, G Sorci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

133 Citations (SciVal)


The extreme polymorphism of the vertebrate major histocompatibility complex (Mhc) is famous for protecting hosts against constantly evolving pathogens. Mate choice is often evoked as a means of maintaining Mhc variability through avoidance of partners with similar Mhc alleles or preference for heterozygotes. Evidence for these two hypotheses mostly comes from studies on humans and laboratory mice. Here, we tested these hypotheses in a wild outbred population of house sparrows (Passer domesticus). Females were not more or less closely related to the males they paired with when considering neutral genetic variation. However, males failed to form breeding pairs when they had too few Mhc alleles and when they were too dissimilar from females at Mhc loci (i.e. had no common alleles). Furthermore, pairs did not form at random as Mhc diversity positively correlated in mating pairs. These results suggest that mate choice evolves in response to (i) benefits in terms of parasite resistance acquired from allelic diversity, and (ii) costs associated with the disruption of co-adapted genes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1111-1116
JournalRoyal Society of London. Proceedings B. Biological Sciences
Issue number1590
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Biological Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Complex Mhc-based mate choice in a wild passerine'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this