Monkeys choose mating partners with different genes: Study
  • This Section
  • Latest
  • Web Wrap
Last Updated: Wednesday, November 25, 2009, 21:30
London: Monkeys choose mating partners with genes different from their own to guarantee healthy and strong offspring, a new study has claimed.

A team of researcher from UK and Africa analysed blood samples and reproduction patterns of around 200 mandrills, a species closely related to humans, living in Gabon in Central Africa.

They observed that female mandrills reproduced most with those males whose genes were complementary to their own.

Presuming that the females use smell to select suitable mating partner for themselves, the scientists said, "monkeys know their own body smell, which is partly determined by their genes".

Male mandrills have a scent-gland on their chest, which they rub vigorously against trees to advertise their presence to females.

"The females sniff out the males whose body odour is different giving an indication that their genetic make up is likely to be unlike theirs," the team assumed, but made it clear that they were still trying to determine mandrill cent-marks.

"This is an important advance in our knowledge of how mate selection works in monkeys. We now need to dig deeper and establish how they do this," lead author Jo Setchell from Durham University's Anthropology Department said in a report in Journal of Evolutionary Biology.

Selective fertilisation could be another method adopted by female mandrills to 'choose' their mates, researchers speculate.

"Alternatively, it could well be that the female has a sophisticated way of somehow rejecting and accepting fertilisation depending on the genetic makeup of the sperm. This might help to explain why female primates go out of their way to mate with as many males as possible," Setchell said.

A female mandrill mates with a number of males and researchers believe that her body rejects sperm from males with a similar genetic makeup and 'picks' those with different genes.

"These results are very exciting and this is the first time that selection for genetic compatibility has been demonstrated in a species which is quite closely related to humans. So our results support the idea that humans might choose genetically compatible mates," Setchell said.


First Published: Wednesday, November 25, 2009, 21:30

Tag: MonkeyGenes
comments powered by Disqus