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Moth mating

"Size is everything" when it comes to the mating preferences of female moths.

Jonathan Weitzman(jonathanweitzman@hotmail.com)

Female arctiid moths (Utetheisa ornatrix) prefer to mate with large males. There is evidence that the female benefits both phenotypically and genetically. In October 24 Nature, Vikram Iyengar and colleagues describe their analysis of the genetic basis for female mate preference (Nature 419:830-832, October 24, 2002).

Sabeti et al. calculated a "mating preference index" (MPIs) for female moths and found that mating preferences of daughters were primarily inherited from the father. There is also a correlation between female MPIs and the father's body size — daughters with large fathers have a stronger preference for larger males.

Utetheisa males are homogametic (ZZ) and females are heterogametic (ZW). Thus, the genes involved in mating preference can be assigned to the Z chromosome. The authors speculate that Z-linkage of female preference may be a general feature in the Lepidoptera.

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