Sexual selection and genetic benefits


During my first postdoc, I changed my research focus from male to female perspective and investigated the ultimate significance of female mate choice. My aim was to experimentally test whether mate choice enhances offspring immune resistance to infectious diseases in wild-caught house mice (Mus musculus musculus). To test this hypothesis, we tested female preference for a range of males and experimentally mated females to either a preferred or a non-preferred male. Afterwards, we infected the offspring of these pairings with a mouse pathogen. We supported the prediction that offspring sired by preferred males were significantly more likely to survive the experimental infection compared to those sired by non-preferred males. Further our work suggests that this benefit was due to an improved ability to cope with infection due to a higher tolerance to infection rather than immune resistance (the ability to control or eliminate pathogens) per se.


Dustin Penn, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna
Kerstin Thonhauser, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna
Michaela Thoss, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna
Attila Hettyey, Centre for Agricultural Research, Hungarian Academy of Sciences Budapest