The scent of inbreeding: male sex pheromones betray inbred males

C.M. Nieberding, E. van Bergen, P.M. Brakefield, S. Heuskin, B.J. Zwaan

Research output: Contribution to journalAbstractAcademic


Inbreeding depression results from mating among genetically related individualsand impairs reproductive success. The decrease in male matingsuccess is usually attributed to an impact on multiple fitness-related traitsthat reduce the general condition of inbred males. Here, we find that the productionof the male sex pheromone is reduced significantly by inbreeding inthe butterfly Bicyclus anynana. Other traits indicative of the general condition,including flight performance, are also negatively affected in malebutterflies by inbreeding. Yet, we unambiguously show that only the productionof male pheromones affects mating success. Thus, this pheromonesignal informs females about the inbreeding status of their mating partners.We also identify the specific chemical component, hexadecanal, probablyresponsible for the decrease in male mating success. Our results advocategiving increased attention to olfactory communication as a major causalfactor of mate-choice decisions and sexual selection.Published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London (2013)
Original languageEnglish
Article numberP063
Pages (from-to)105-105
JournalChemical Senses
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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