In mice and man, females prefer males with a major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genotype different to their own. We tested whether this phenomenon also occurs in the Swedish sand lizard (Lacerta agilis). Females in a laboratory experiment preferred to associate with odour samples obtained from more distantly related males at the MHC class 1 loci. Data on free-ranging lizards suggest that associations between males and females are nonrandom with respect to MHC genotype. However, male spatial distribution and mobility during the mating season suggest that the non-random pairing process in the wild may also be driven by corresponding genetic benefits to males pairing with less related females.
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