Royal Society Publishing

Major histocompatibility complex and mate choice in sand lizards

Mats Olsson, Thomas Madsen, Jessica Nordby, Erik Wapstra, Beata Ujvari, Håkan Wittsell


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.


  • * Author for correspondence (mats.olsson{at}

Royal Society Login

Log in through your institution