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Chemical fingerprints encode mother-offspring similarity, colony membership, relatedness and genetic quality in fur seals

Stoffel, Martin A.; Caspers, Barbara A.; Forcada, Jaume; Giannakara, Athina; Baier, Markus ; Eberhart-Phillios, Luke; Muller, Caroline; Hoffman, Josephy I.. 2015 Chemical fingerprints encode mother-offspring similarity, colony membership, relatedness and genetic quality in fur seals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112 (36). E5005-E5012. 10.1073/pnas.1506076112

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Abstract/Summary

Chemical communication underpins virtually all aspects of vertebrate social life, yet remains poorly understood because of its highly complex mechanistic basis. We therefore used chemical fingerprinting of skin swabs and genetic analysis to explore the chemical cues that may underlie mother–offspring recognition in colonially breeding Antarctic fur seals. By sampling mother–offspring pairs from two different colonies, using a variety of statistical approaches and genotyping a large panel of microsatellite loci, we show that colony membership, mother–offspring similarity, heterozygosity, and genetic relatedness are all chemically encoded. Moreover, chemical similarity between mothers and offspring reflects a combination of genetic and environmental influences, the former partly encoded by substances resembling known pheromones. Our findings reveal the diversity of information contained within chemical fingerprints and have implications for understanding mother–offspring communication, kin recognition, and mate choice.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1073/pnas.1506076112
Programmes: BAS Programmes > BAS Programmes 2015 > Ecosystems
ISSN: 00278424
Additional Keywords: chemical communication, mother-offspring recognition, GC-MS, genotype, pinniped
Date made live: 13 Oct 2015 09:00 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/510930

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