Influence of MHC on sibling discrimination in Arctic char, Salvelinus alpinus (L.)

J Chem Ecol. 2002 Apr;28(4):783-95. doi: 10.1023/a:1015240810676.


The preference of juvenile Arctic char [Salvelinus alpinus (L.)] for odors from siblings and nonsiblings with different major histocompability complex class II (MHC) genotypes was studied in two-choice fluviarium tests. In the first part of the study, test fish demonstrated no preference for water scented by a sibling with a MHC genotype different from its own versus water scented by a MHC identical nonsibling. When both donors were siblings with different MHC genotypes, however, the test fish chose the water scented by the fish with the same MHC type as the test fish. The results suggest that odors with information about kinship are dependent on MHC but also on other, unknown factors. In the second part of the study, we observed that fish isolated since fertilization did not show any behavioral discrimination towards siblings, based on MHC genotype. One reasonable explanation for this result is that Arctic char learn to discriminate between odors from individuals of different MHC types.

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Cues
  • Ecology
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Genotype
  • Major Histocompatibility Complex / genetics
  • Major Histocompatibility Complex / physiology*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Odorants*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Species Specificity
  • Trout / physiology*