Hermaphrodite chat line
But what if your species doesn't have the simple division of males and females?
It has been shown that in some species (arguably including our own), mate choice can be mediated by smell responses to these MHC molecules. It would be interesting to see if the same pathway controlled some general genetic distance required for mating..tuning would presumably be an inverted U-shaped curve?
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Therefore, hermaphrodites should choose mating with a male over mating with themselves and both sexes should choose mates that are as genetically different from themselves as possible.
The researchers tested mangrove killifish from two different genetic lines.
When the researchers put the males in a tank in which they could choose to hang out with a closely-related hermaphrodite or a distantly-related hermaphrodite, they much preferred the distantly-related hermaphrodite.
Most populations of animal species (and most notably our own) are roughly half male and half female, so this is the standard we tend to accept as "normal".In this common system, males generally invest less in each potential offspring than do females (in physical resources, parental time and risk), so they can afford to make a few poor mate choices in favor of having more mates over time.
Also, these fish were responding to smells in the water. There was a recent drosophila paper suggesting that they have a unique pathway that prevents them from mating with other species ("Genetic and neural mechanisms that inhibit drosophila from mating with other species").Hermaphrodites can mate with males or with themselves, but not with other hermaphrodites. Researchers Amy Ellison, Jennifer Jones, Charlotte Inchley, and Sofia Consuegra at Aberystwyth University in the United Kingdom, recently explored how this hermaphrodite/male reproductive system could impact the mate choice decision making process.They figured that mangrove killifish (like just about any species) would benefit from having more genetic diversity in the population and that individual killifish that are less inbred would be healthier.Then they put the hermaphrodites in a tank in which they could choose to hang out with a closely-related male or a distantly-related male.The hermaphrodites didn't seem to care: Apparently any male is good enough.In the game of love, we typically think of males as being the showy courting sex and females being the coy choosy sex.