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Female promiscuity can rescue populations from harmful effects of inbreeding
Date:9/22/2011

ter as few as 15 generations, females began to change their mating patterns and behave far more promiscuously. Females from the previously bottlenecked populations mated with new males faster, more frequently, and for longer.

"By generating inbred populations, we were able to create real risks of high genetic incompatibility between reproducing males and females, and expose the mechanisms that females possess to promote fertilization by the most compatible males and their sperm," said lead author Prof Matthew Gage of UEA's School of Biological Sciences.

"These exciting results show how this common but paradoxical mating pattern can evolve if females use it to avoid reproducing with genetically incompatible males. Exactly how females filter the most compatible sperm is not yet understood. They might simply mate more frequently, and allow the 'best sperm to win', which would work if winning sperm are from males who have themselves avoided inbreeding depression. Or they might choose to mate most with the less related males, perhaps using olfactory cues, thereby concentrating their sperm stores from those males. We think that the process occurs most likely at the gamete level, because females mate with most of the males they are exposed to and only store for fertilization a tiny proportion of the sperm they are actually inseminated with. We know that sperm:egg recognition systems exist in other systems to avoid fertilization by unrelated species, and here it could run parallel where the system avoids fertilization by males that are too closely related."

The results could be of interest to those involved in breeding programmes, where providing females or their eggs with a choice might allow more compatible genes to be inherited.

"There's a telling example here from salmon restocking programs: should you maintain genetic diversity in the population by forcing each female to be fertilized by one different male, as is currently favoured, or
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Contact: Simon Dunford, Press Officer
s.dunford@uea.ac.uk
44-016-035-92203
University of East Anglia
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3

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