Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

’Eau de dad’ woos women

21.01.2002


Genes mean ladies like friends and partners that smell like their father.


Nice smile but does he smell like dad?
© Photodisc



Bachelors - ditch the Old Spice and don your prospective father-in-law’s clothes. Women prefer the scent of their dad, a study shows, and may choose their friends and partners accordingly.

Nervous new boyfriends can live or die by the nod of a date’s daunting dad. But Carole Ober and her team at the University of Chicago in Illinois have found a more fundamental fatherly influence: women prefer the smells of men whose gene selection matches their dad’s1.


Could this be a female Oedipus complex? "It’s possible we would choose someone who smells like our dad," says team member Martha McClintock. If so, it could help women choose partners who share a selection of their own healthy genes, rather than a total stranger, whose vigour is unknown.

Equally, women could favour friends and workmates who have a paternal perfume. The dad partiality may have evolved to help people recognize and look after unfamiliar members of their own extended family.

Wayne Potts, of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, favours the latter idea. "There are dozens of other reasons to choose partners," he says. When smells are judged out of context, it is difficult to know how this would affect everyday behaviour, he warns.

Sniffing the sheets

Women in Ober’s study snuffed men’s two-night-old T-shirts. "Think of what your pillow and sheets smell like," suggests McClintock. These scents were presented to women, disguised in a box, alongside faint household odours such as clove, bleach and fresh laundry.

Men in the line-up each carried a different array of MHC genes, which are involved in fighting disease. Like vacillating brides, women were asked which scent they would choose if they had to smell it for the rest of their lives.

Women chose the scent of men whose array of MHC genes was similar to their own, the team found. The similar genes also matched, and were inherited from, the woman’s father.

Their choice was not down to familiarity with the odour from childhood. Women did not prefer the smell of a man whose MHC genes matched their father’s but not their own. If the preference were based simply on memory of the father’s smell, women would be less picky. "The genes are driving the preference," says McClintock.

Same but different

Each person carries a unique combination of MHC genes, which help to recognize foreign cells in the body. An earlier smelly T-shirt study showed that women choose men whose selection is different from their own2. This seems to conflict with Ober’s study, in which women preferred a whiff of genetic similarity.

Inbreeding with genetically similar partners can cause problems in children - but outbreeding with partners whose genes are totally different can also spell trouble. Choosing partners with an intermediate blend of disease-fighting genes may give future children the best chance of survival, the team suggests.

References

  1. Jacob, S., McClintick, M.K., Zelano, B., & Ober, C. Paternally inherited HLA alleles are associated with women’s choice of male odor. Nature Genetics, DOI: 10.1038/ng830 (2002).
  2. Wedekind, C., Seebeck, T., Bettens, F. & Paepke, A.J. MHC-dependent mate preferences in humans. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, 260, 245 - 249, (1995).


HELEN PEARSON | © Nature News Service
Further information:
http://www.nature.com/nsu/020114/020114-13.html

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
18.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>