• Additive genetic benefit;
  • female mate choice;
  • genetic compatibility;
  • good genes;
  • mate choice;
  • MHC;
  • nonadditive genetic benefit;
  • olfactory cues;
  • Rhodeus ocellatus;
  • sexual selection

Good genes models of mate choice predict additive genetic benefits of choice whereas the compatibility hypothesis predicts nonadditive fitness benefits. Here the Chinese rose bitterling, Rhodeus ocellatus, a freshwater fish with a resource-based mating system, was used to separate additive and nonadditive genetic benefits of female mate choice. A sequential blocked mating design was used to test female mate preferences, and a cross-classified breeding design coupled with in vitro fertilizations for fitness benefits of mate choice. In addition, the offspring produced by the pairing of preferred and nonpreferred males were reared to maturity and their fitness traits were compared. Finally, the MHC DAB1 gene was typed and male MHC genotypes were correlated with female mate choice. Females showed significant mate preferences but preferences were not congruent among females. There was a significant interaction of male and female genotype on offspring survival, rate of development, growth rate, and body size. No significant male additive effects on offspring fitness were observed. Female mate preferences corresponded with male genetic compatibility, which correlated with MHC dissimilarity. It is proposed that in the rose bitterling genetic compatibility is the mechanism by which females obtain a fitness benefit through mate choice and that male MHC dissimilarity, likely mediated by odor cues, indicates genetic compatibility.