Effect of MHC and inbreeding on disassortative reproduction: A data revisit, extension and inclusion of fertilization in sand lizards

Publication Name

Ecology and Evolution


The harmful effects of close inbreeding have been recognized for centuries and, with the rise of Mendelian genetics, was realized to be an effect of homozygosis. This historical background led to great interest in ways to quantify inbreeding, its depression effects on the phenotype and flow-on effects on mate choice and other aspects of behavioral ecology. The mechanisms and cues used to avoid inbreeding are varied and include major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules and the peptides they transport as predictors of the degree of genetic relatedness. Here, we revisit and complement data from a Swedish population of sand lizards (Lacerta agilis) showing signs of inbreeding depression to assess the effects of genetic relatedness on pair formation in the wild. Parental pairs were less similar at the MHC than expected under random mating but mated at random with respect to microsatellite relatedness. MHC clustered in groups of RFLP bands but no partner preference was observed with respect to partner MHC cluster genotype. Male MHC band patterns were unrelated to their fertilization success in clutches selected for analysis on the basis of showing mixed paternity. Thus, our data suggest that MHC plays a role in pre-copulatory, but not post-copulatory partner association, suggesting that MHC is not the driver of fertilization bias and gamete recognition in sand lizards.

Open Access Status

This publication may be available as open access





Article Number


Funding Sponsor

Australian Research Council



Link to publisher version (DOI)