Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sniffing Out Relatives, Bluegill Sunfish Use Self-referencing To Recognize Kin

Date:
October 4, 2006
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
Many animal societies involve highly promiscuous mating behavior, making it potentially complicated for individuals to recognize and preferentially help their relatives. Researchers have now shown that offspring of promiscuous male bluegill sunfish compare the odor of nest-mates to their own genetically determined odor, and prefer to associate only with individuals that smell like themselves.

A mating trio of bluegill sunfish consisting of a parental male (left), a female (center), and a cuckolder male that mimics a female in coloration and behavior. Despite the clever deception of the cuckolder male, a parental male still manages to sire a majority of the eggs within his nests. Consequently, his offspring are highly related to most of the young within the nest, and his offspring do not differentiate among kin and nonkin when associating with nestmates. Conversely, the offspring of cuckolder males are typically unrelated to many of the young within a nest, and unlike the parental male's offspring, cuckolder offspring compare the similarity of a putative kin's odor to their own odor to find nestmates that are kin (this method is referred to as self-referent phenotype matching). For more details, see the article by Hain et al. in Current Biology.
Credit: Current Biology

Many animal societies involve highly promiscuous mating behavior, making it potentially complicated for individuals to recognize and preferentially help their relatives. Researchers have now shown that offspring of promiscuous male bluegill sunfish compare the odor of nest-mates to their own genetically determined odor, and prefer to associate only with individuals that smell like themselves. This finding may explain how social behavior operates in promiscuous animal societies. The new work is reported by Tim Hain and Bryan Neff of the University of Western Ontario and appears in the September 19th issue of Current Biology, published by Cell Press.

Most animals, including humans, are able to recognize their relatives. This is commonly accomplished by remembering the individuals one associates with during early development, such as nest-mates. However, it is now well known that many animals are also highly promiscuous and thus that nest-mates are not always kin (that is, full siblings). A so-called self-referencing kin-recognition mechanism, where individuals use some aspect of their own appearance, odor, or other characteristic to recognize kin, had been proposed for several animals, but past studies had not yet eliminated the possibility that such cases might involve kin recognition based on learning early in development.

In the new work, the researchers studied the ability of bluegill sunfish larvae to recognize kin. Using in vitro fertilization techniques, the researchers created mixed broods in which nest-mates were not reliably kin--some were full siblings and others were unrelated. They then used behavioral experiments and DNA analysis to show that offspring of the promiscuous "cuckolder" males actively sought and associated with the odor of siblings that they had never encountered previously. This ability to recognize unfamiliar relatives provides compelling evidence for the use of kin recognition through a process in which an individual matches its own physical characteristics to those of others, and it confirms the importance of kinship in social behavior.

The researchers include Timothy J.A. Hain and Bryan D. Neff of University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada. Research conformed to protocols outlined by the Canadian Council on Animal Care and was supported by the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (scholarship to T.J.A.H. and grant to B.D.N.).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Sniffing Out Relatives, Bluegill Sunfish Use Self-referencing To Recognize Kin." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 October 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060918165516.htm>.
Cell Press. (2006, October 4). Sniffing Out Relatives, Bluegill Sunfish Use Self-referencing To Recognize Kin. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060918165516.htm
Cell Press. "Sniffing Out Relatives, Bluegill Sunfish Use Self-referencing To Recognize Kin." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060918165516.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) New conservation measures for shark fishing face an uphill PR battle in the fight to slow shark extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lion Cubs the Pride of San Diego Zoo

Lion Cubs the Pride of San Diego Zoo

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 13, 2014) Roars of excitement as a proud lioness shows off her four cubs at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins