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Decoding an olfactory mechanism of kin recognition and inbreeding avoidance in a primate.

dc.contributor.author Boulet, Marylène
dc.contributor.author Charpentier, Marie JE
dc.contributor.author Drea, Christine M
dc.coverage.spatial England
dc.date.accessioned 2011-06-21T17:29:32Z
dc.date.issued 2009-12-03
dc.identifier https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19958525
dc.identifier 1471-2148-9-281
dc.identifier.uri https://hdl.handle.net/10161/4342
dc.description.abstract BACKGROUND: Like other vertebrates, primates recognize their relatives, primarily to minimize inbreeding, but also to facilitate nepotism. Although associative, social learning is typically credited for discrimination of familiar kin, discrimination of unfamiliar kin remains unexplained. As sex-biased dispersal in long-lived species cannot consistently prevent encounters between unfamiliar kin, inbreeding remains a threat and mechanisms to avoid it beg explanation. Using a molecular approach that combined analyses of biochemical and microsatellite markers in 17 female and 19 male ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta), we describe odor-gene covariance to establish the feasibility of olfactory-mediated kin recognition. RESULTS: Despite derivation from different genital glands, labial and scrotal secretions shared about 170 of their respective 338 and 203 semiochemicals. In addition, these semiochemicals encoded information about genetic relatedness within and between the sexes. Although the sexes showed opposite seasonal patterns in signal complexity, the odor profiles of related individuals (whether same-sex or mixed-sex dyads) converged most strongly in the competitive breeding season. Thus, a strong, mutual olfactory signal of genetic relatedness appeared specifically when such information would be crucial for preventing inbreeding. That weaker signals of genetic relatedness might exist year round could provide a mechanism to explain nepotism between unfamiliar kin. CONCLUSION: We suggest that signal convergence between the sexes may reflect strong selective pressures on kin recognition, whereas signal convergence within the sexes may arise as its by-product or function independently to prevent competition between unfamiliar relatives. The link between an individual's genome and its olfactory signals could be mediated by biosynthetic pathways producing polymorphic semiochemicals or by carrier proteins modifying the individual bouquet of olfactory cues. In conclusion, we unveil a possible olfactory mechanism of kin recognition that has specific relevance to understanding inbreeding avoidance and nepotistic behavior observed in free-ranging primates, and broader relevance to understanding the mechanisms of vertebrate olfactory communication.
dc.language eng
dc.language.iso en_US
dc.publisher Springer Science and Business Media LLC
dc.relation.ispartof BMC Evol Biol
dc.relation.isversionof 10.1186/1471-2148-9-281
dc.subject Animal Communication
dc.subject Animals
dc.subject Behavior, Animal
dc.subject Bodily Secretions
dc.subject Female
dc.subject Inbreeding
dc.subject Lemur
dc.subject Male
dc.subject Odorants
dc.subject Recognition (Psychology)
dc.subject Smell
dc.title Decoding an olfactory mechanism of kin recognition and inbreeding avoidance in a primate.
dc.title.alternative
dc.type Journal article
duke.contributor.id Drea, Christine M|0230541
dc.description.version Version of Record
duke.date.pubdate 2009-12-3
duke.description.issue
duke.description.volume 9
dc.relation.journal Bmc Evolutionary Biology
pubs.author-url https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19958525
pubs.begin-page 281
pubs.organisational-group Duke
pubs.organisational-group Duke Institute for Brain Sciences
pubs.organisational-group Duke Science & Society
pubs.organisational-group Evolutionary Anthropology
pubs.organisational-group Initiatives
pubs.organisational-group Institutes and Provost's Academic Units
pubs.organisational-group Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
pubs.organisational-group University Institutes and Centers
pubs.publication-status Published online
pubs.volume 9
dc.identifier.eissn 1471-2148


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