Marie J. E. Charpentier and Marylène Boulet contributed equally to this work.
Smelling right: the scent of male lemurs advertises genetic quality and relatedness
Article first published online: 28 JUN 2008
© 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Volume 17, Issue 14, pages 3225–3233, July 2008
How to Cite
CHARPENTIER, M. J. E., BOULET, M. and DREA, C. M. (2008), Smelling right: the scent of male lemurs advertises genetic quality and relatedness. Molecular Ecology, 17: 3225–3233. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2008.03831.x
- Issue published online: 8 JUL 2008
- Article first published online: 28 JUN 2008
- Received 23 February 2008; revision accepted 30 April 2008
- genetic compatibility;
- olfactory communication;
- sexual selection;
- strepsirrhine primate
Sexual selection theory predicts that competitors or potential mates signal their quality or relatedness to conspecifics. Researchers have focused on visual or auditory modes of signal transmission; however, the importance of olfactory indicators is gaining recognition. Using a primate model and a new integrative analytical approach, we provide the first evidence relating male olfactory cues to individual genome-wide heterozygosity and to the genetic distance between individuals. The relationships between male semiochemical profiles and genetic characteristics are apparent only during the highly competitive and stressful breeding season. As heterozygosity accurately predicts health and survivorship in this population, we identify scrotal olfactory cues as honest indicators of male quality, with relevance possibly to both sexes. Beyond showing that semiochemicals could underlie kin recognition and nepotism, we provide a putative olfactory mechanism to guide male–male competition and female mate choice.