Navigation Links
Genetic rarity rules in wild guppy population, study finds

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. When it comes to choosing a mate, female guppies don't care about who is fairest. All that matters is who is rarest.

Florida State University Professor Kimberly A. Hughes in the Department of Biological Science has a new study just published in the journal Nature that is the first to demonstrate a female preference for rare males using an experiment in a wild population, rather than a laboratory setting.

This study of genetic differences in male guppies is relevant to understanding variation in humans as well as in other organisms, Hughes said.

Hughes and her longtime collaborators studied guppies in Trinidad and found that male guppies with rare color patterns mated more and lived longer than the common males. The males' color variations are genetic and not due to diet or temperature. And the males' actual appearance didn't matter to the females, who are tan in color and do the choosing of mates.

"No matter which color pattern we made rare in any group, they mated more and had more offspring," Hughes said.

So, a male guppy common in one grouping, i.e., placed in a stream with many fish that look like him, is a dud to the females also in the stream. But, take that common male and place him in a different stream with only one or two others similar to him, and he's suddenly rare and a desirable mate.

In an earlier study, Hughes showed that male guppies with rare color patterns had a survival advantage compared to those with common patterns in natural populations. During a three-week study, also in Trinidad, 70 percent of common males survived, while 85 percent of rare males survived.

This new study, "Mating advantage for rare males in wild guppy populations," reports the results of paternity analyses of the offspring produced by the females in that earlier field experiment.

Hughes approached this new, rare-male-as-mating-champ theory with the goal of ruling it out. She thought it was unlikely.

But, "We got a big, significant result," she said.

Guppies (Poecilia reticulata) are an ideal species for this study, Hughes said, because the males' color variations are so visible and because there is so much variation. Other fish show color variation but not as widely as the guppy.

"These guys are sort of the champions of variation," she said.

And it's not that the rare males are simply trying harder to land a female. All male guppies do elaborate mating rituals, fanning out their fins and pursuing a mate.

The next question to answer, Hughes said, is why. Why do female guppies go for the rarest male in a particular population? It's possible that in choosing a mate who appears unknown to her, a female guppy is trying to avoid procreating with a relative, which can lead to genetic disorders in offspring.

The guppy question speaks to a longstanding puzzle within evolutionary biology: Why are individuals within species so genetically diverse?

Understanding why species are genetically diverse is key to understanding human variation in disease susceptibility, for maintaining healthy crop and livestock populations and for preserving endangered species, Hughes said.


Contact: Nicole Brooks
Florida State University

Related biology news :

1. GenSeq: Updated nomenclature for genetic sequences to solve taxonomic determination issues
2. BUSM researchers study epigenetic mechanisms of tumor metastasis for improved cancer therapy
3. HIV -- Geneticists map human resistance to AIDS
4. Measuring segments of genetic material may help predict and monitor recurrence after thyroid cancer
5. Genetic variants associated with bronchodilator responsiveness
6. EUREKA grant to fund development of new optogenetic technique for mapping neural networks at UMMS
7. New software traces origins of genetic disorders 20 times more accurately
8. 2 genetic wrongs make a biochemical right
9. Babcock Genetics Launches Breed Select Program
10. New genetic discovery could reduce the guesswork in drug dosing
11. What makes us left or right handed? New study rules out strong genetic factors
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/12/2015)... Mass. , Nov. 12, 2015  Arxspan ... Institute of MIT and Harvard for use of ... discovery information management tools. The partnership will support ... both biological and chemical research information internally and ... will be used for managing the Institute,s electronic ...
(Date:11/9/2015)... DUBLIN , Nov. 09, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... announced the addition of the "Global ... to their offering. --> ... "Global Law Enforcement Biometrics Market 2015-2019" ... Research and Markets ( ) ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... , Oct. 29, 2015  The J. Craig Venter ... titled, "DNA Synthesis and Biosecurity: Lessons Learned and Options ... of Health and Human Services guidance for synthetic biology ... --> --> ... has the potential to pose unique biosecurity threats. It ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... , November 26, 2015 ... --> Accutest Research Laboratories, a ... Research Organization (CRO), has formed a ... Center - Temple Health for joint ... ,     (Photo: ) , ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... , November 26, 2015 ... Biobanking Market 2016 - 2020 report analyzes that ... integrity and quality in long-term samples, minimizing manual ... cost-effectiveness. Automation minimizes manual errors such as mislabeling ... efficiency. Further, it plays a vital role in ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 2 nouvelles études permettent d ... différences entre les souches bactériennes retrouvées dans la plaque ... humains . Ces recherches  ouvrent une nouvelle ... charge efficace de l,un des problèmes de santé ... .    --> 2 nouvelles études permettent d ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... HOLLISTON, Mass. , Nov. 25, 2015 ... HART ), a biotechnology company developing bioengineered organ implants ... McGorry will present at the LD Micro "Main ... 2:30 p.m. PT. The presentation will be webcast live ... Management will also be available at the conference for ...
Breaking Biology Technology: