Female choice for male cuticular hydrocarbon profile in decorated crickets is not based on similarity to their own profile

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Indirect genetic benefits derived from female mate choice comprise additive (good genes) and nonadditive genetic benefits (genetic compatibility). Although good genes can be revealed by condition-dependent display traits, the mechanism by which compatibility alleles are detected is unclear because evaluation of the genetic similarity of a prospective mate requires the female to assess the genotype of the male and compare it to her own. Cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs), lipids coating the exoskeleton of most insects, influence female mate choice in a number of species and offer a way for females to assess genetic similarity of prospective mates. Here, we determine whether female mate choice in decorated crickets is based on male CHCs and whether it is influenced by females' own CHC profiles. We used multivariate selection analysis to estimate the strength and form of selection acting on male CHCs through female mate choice, and employed different measures of multivariate dissimilarity to determine whether a female's preference for male CHCs is based on similarity to her own CHC profile. Female mating preferences were significantly influenced by CHC profiles of males. Male CHC attractiveness was not, however, contingent on the CHC profile of the choosing female, as certain male CHC phenotypes were equally attractive to most females, evidenced by significant linear and stabilizing selection gradients. These results suggest that additive genetic benefits, rather than nonadditive genetic benefits, accrue to female mate choice, in support of earlier work showing that CHC expression of males, but not females, is condition dependent.

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