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, 5 (10), e13505

Does Kin Recognition and Sib-Mating Avoidance Limit the Risk of Genetic Incompatibility in a Parasitic Wasp?


Does Kin Recognition and Sib-Mating Avoidance Limit the Risk of Genetic Incompatibility in a Parasitic Wasp?

Marie Metzger et al. PLoS One.


Background: When some combinations of maternal and paternal alleles have a detrimental effect on offspring fitness, females should be able to choose mates on the basis of their genetic compatibility. In numerous Hymenoptera, the sex of an individual depends of the allelic combination at a specific locus (single-locus Complementary Sex Determination), and in most of these species individuals that are homozygous at this sexual locus develop into diploid males with zero fitness.

Methods and findings: In this paper, we tested the hypothesis of genetic incompatibility avoidance by investigating sib-mating avoidance in the solitary wasp parasitoid, Venturia canescens. In the context of mate choice we show, for the first time in a non-social hymenopteran species, that females can avoid mating with their brothers through kin recognition. In "no-choice" tests, the probability a female will mate with an unrelated male is twice as high as the chance of her mating with her brothers. In contrast, in choice tests in small test arenas, no kin discrimination effect was observed. Further experiments with male extracts demonstrate that chemical cues emanating from related males influence the acceptance rate of unrelated males.

Conclusions: Our results are compatible with the genetic incompatibility hypothesis. They suggest that the female wasps recognize sibs on the basis of a chemical signature carried or emitted by males possibly using a "self-referent phenotype matching" mechanism.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


Figure 1
Figure 1. Percentage of observation trials in which there was either no mating, a mating between sibs, or a mating between non-sibs (experiment 2).
Each female had the choice between a brother and an unrelated male. NS: non significant; * : p<0.05.
Figure 2
Figure 2. Percentage of females accepting to mate with a non-sib male according to their relatedness with the male extract (N = 32/treatment; experiment 3).
* : p<0.05.

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