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Proc Biol Sci. 2002 Aug 22;269(1501):1681-5.

Do pheromones reveal male immunocompetence?

Author information

  • 1Department of Biological and Environmental Science, University of Jyväskylä, PO Box 35, Finland. marrant@dodo.jyu.fi

Abstract

Pheromones function not only as mate attractors, but they may also relay important information to prospective mates. It has been shown that vertebrates can distinguish, via olfactory mechanisms, major histocompatibility complex types in their prospective mates. However, whether pheromones can transmit information about immunocompetence is unknown. Here, we show that female mealworm beetles (Tenebrio molitor) prefer pheromones from males with better immunocompetence, indicated by a faster encapsulation rate against a novel antigen, and higher levels of phenoloxidase in haemolymph. Thus, the present study indicates that pheromones could transmit information about males' parasite resistance ability and may work as a reliable sexual ornament for female choice.

PMID:
12204128
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC1691089
Free PMC Article
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