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Keywords:

  • contact pheromones;
  • genetic compatibility;
  • inbreeding avoidance;
  • mate choice

Abstract

Animals should decipher information about the genetic make-up of conspecifics in order to enhance the fitness benefits associated with mate choice. Although there is increasing evidence to suggest that animals make genetically informed decisions about their mating partners, we understand relatively little about the sensory mechanisms informing these decisions. Here, we investigate whether cuticular hydrocarbons, chemical compounds found on the cuticle of most terrestrial arthropods, provide a means of discerning genetic similarity during mate choice in the cricket, Teleogryllus oceanicus. We found that individuals preferentially mated with partners who share more dissimilar cuticular hydrocarbon profiles and that similarity in cuticular hydrocarbon profiles between mating pairs correlated with their genetic similarity. Our results provide good evidence that cuticular hydrocarbon profiles offer a means of assessing genetic compatibility in T. oceanicus, enabling individuals to choose their most genetically suitable mate.