Compatible genes:
A tiny raindrop has appeared in the perfect blizzard of opinion extolling the virtues of genetic diversity.  (Females Use Multiple Mating and Genetically Loaded Sperm Competition to Target Compatible Genes, Sarah R. Pryke, Lee A. Rollins and Simon C. Griffith SCIENCE vol. 329 no. 5994 August 20, 2010 page 964) The Gouldian finch mate for life and are kind of monogamous most of the time.  There is a degree of philandering, but a female being approached had the ability to make and enforce a “no” decision. 

That has left a bit of a question.  What’s in it for the female?  She makes a greater investment in the offspring than does the male.  Well for the male to spread his seed everywhere possible.  He can afford the investment.  But why should the female accept an illegitimate approach?  She can get all the sexual attention she needs from her life partner. 

Well it turns out that some finches are more equal than others.  In point of fact, there are two head colors for this species: red and black.  If different head colors mate, there is a 60% greater loss of offspring from egg to sexual maturity than if the same head colors mate.  Careful study shows that females on the prowl prefer Lotharios of the same head color.  They also have means to select compatible sperm over incompatible sperm even after intercourse – that being the major contribution of the study. 

This matter is actually probably off topic.  The relative infertility of unrelated animals of just about all species is probably epigenetic, while this is clearly a genetic issue.  Still, this is the first time I have seen the phrase, “compatible genes” in print.

It should not be new.  The loss when an Rh negative woman marries an Rh positive man is frequently greater than 60%.  But I have never seen “incompatible genes” used in that contest. 

It is sort of like hearing a herd of buffalo over the horizon by listening to the ground.  It’s subtle.  But I have the sense of something huge moving extremely fast out there.  Word may get around yet. 

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