Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Females promiscuous for the good of their grandchildren

07.09.2007
Female animals that mate with multiple partners may be doing so to ensure the optimum health of their grandchildren, according to researchers at the universities of Leeds and Exeter.

Despite mating being a risky business for females – not least with the threat of injury, sexually transmitted diseases and vulnerability to predators - polyandry (females taking multiple mates) is widespread in the animal kingdom.

Dr Stephen Cornell (Leeds) and Dr Tom Tregenza (Exeter) have shown that polyandry may have evolved as a survival technique because it provides genetic benefits for species that either accidentally inbreed, or may have no other choice in certain circumstances.

The researchers used a mathematical model to calculate the genetic advantages of polyandry for species where inbreeding is routine – which is thought to be a very large number of species and includes social spiders and many pests of stored food such as beetles. They found that the genetic rewards are likely to be strong enough to compensate for the risks involved in taking extra mates.

... more about:
»Genetic »mate »mating »species

“Not only is mating dangerous enough for females, but most species covered by our model should be able to get all the sperm they need for a lifetime’s reproduction from a single mating, so it has puzzled scientists as to why this type of behaviour would be so common,” says Dr Cornell. “You would think that their time would be better spent foraging for food, or at least avoiding being eaten by predators.”

In some polyandrous animals, ‘paternity biasing’ may take place where the female will use only the sperm from the ‘preferred’ male to fertilise her eggs, or invest her time looking after the offspring of her preferred mate.

But many species are not cabable of preferentially fertilizing their eggs and so must have a different reason for their behaviour. For these species, mating with multiple partners means that the female’s offspring are only half-siblings, so that when inbreeding occurs the gene pool is wider, which reduces the chances of genetic defects appearing.

“It’s common for animals to breed with siblings if no other suitable mates can be found, says Dr Cornell, “For example, female bruchid beetles – a major pest in Africa that infest stores of dried beans - move on after mating to inhabit a new patch of food, and in the new colony inbreeding may be inevitable until new beetles arrive.”

Says Dr Tregenza: “It’s well known that male animals mate with multiple females to sire as many descendants as possible. But females are playing a very different game. They are normally expected to focus on quality, rather than quantity of mates. It’s all about weighing up the costs of additional mates and in many species the benefits outweigh the risks in ensuring the genetic line is continued.”

| alfa
Further information:
http://www.leeds.ac.uk
http://reporter.leeds.ac.uk/press_releases/index.htm

Further reports about: Genetic mate mating species

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Biochemical 'fingerprints' reveal diabetes progression
22.08.2017 | Umea University

nachricht When fish swim in the holodeck
22.08.2017 | University of Vienna

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

Molecular volume control

22.08.2017 | Life Sciences

When fish swim in the holodeck

22.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Biochemical 'fingerprints' reveal diabetes progression

22.08.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>