Evidence that humans prefer genetically dissimilar partners based on scent

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A team of researchers at Université Paris Diderot has found evidence that suggests humans are able to detect via smell which partners are genetically preferable. In their paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the group describes their study of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) in people, and the ability to detect it via smell.

Prior research has shown that animals, including humans, are more successful from a genetic perspective when they mate with a partner that is genetically dissimilar in key ways. One of those differences is the makeup of their MHC—a cluster of genes that plays an important role in immune function. When two people with dissimilar clusters mate, their offspring gain the benefits of both parents. In recent years, medical researchers have suspected that people are able to "sense" the makeup of a potential mate's MHC, and that people tend to find those with dissimilarities more attractive. It was assumed that if this were the case, that the olfactory system was responsible. The researchers with this new effort note that several studies have been conducted that were designed to determine if such theories were correct, but the results have varied widely. To find out once and for all, they conducted a larger, more thorough study.

The work involved analyzing data from the Database of Genotypes and Phenotypes managed by NIH. The researchers report that they were able to use genome-wide data from over 800 couples living in Europe and the Middle East (Israel)—more specifically, they were able to see how similar their MHCs were.

The researchers report that on average, the MHCs between couples in Europe were dissimilar—more so than could be accounted for by randomness. They also noted that such differences were the most pronounced in couples living in the Netherlands. But they also report that they found no such degree of dissimilarity for couples living in Israel.

The researchers suggest their findings provide strong evidence of a human ability to smell MHC in other humans and to prefer mates with dissimilarities. They suggest such a preference can be overridden by , however, such as those found in Israel, where is limited due to social standing or family practices.

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Opposites attract -- how genetics influences humans to choose their mates

More information: Claire Dandine-Roulland et al. Genomic evidence for MHC disassortative mating in humans, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (2019). DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2018.2664

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Citation: Evidence that humans prefer genetically dissimilar partners based on scent (2019, March 20) retrieved 21 October 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-03-evidence-humans-genetically-dissimilar-partners.html
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Mar 20, 2019
This is less research, and more common sense. If by the age of 20 or so, you haven't accepted the reality that you will not be compatible with someone whom your nose says 'stinks', not all of the world's cologne will help.

Mar 20, 2019
I dont think this is a new revelation. I think tobacco has been promoted since the 30s for women expressly to deaden their sense of smell. It reduces their ability to discern and be attracted to proper mates, and to receive reinforcing cues that the children they are caring for are theirs.

And without those cues they are more apt to to search out multiple partners and less apt to remain in stable relationships producing multiple offspring. Children also cannot smell their mothers. Husbands are less attracted to women who do not smell like women.

Yet more evidence of the concerted postwar effort to reduce growth by any and all means, including destroying the traditional family unit.

Certain women have traditionally smoked... prostitutes, gays, the emotionally disturbed. They smoke to reduce the unwanted distraction and confusion from male scents.

Mar 20, 2019
gosh, otto, that was a pretty cogent analysis of social problems in the Modern Age.
Though you lack the self-discipline to not reveal your misogynist prejudices.
It must be "that time of the month" when your hormones go all testosteronic on you?

Cause damned if I remember any female executives in the advertising agencies or tv producers flooding America with tobacco ads.

& what percentage of the politicians collecting tobacco taxes were female? More than zero? But not much more.

& of course those manly cowboys pushing Camels.
Such a popular smoke for women.

Of course you're right! Ut's all the fault of women for succumbing to the steady propaganda.

& those poor innocent males who were virtuous until wily females seduced you sweet innocent weaklings.

An offshoot of this is the role played by Southern Comfort . which together with rum & coke were probably the number one cause of America's baby Boon from the 1940's to the 1970;s.

Mar 20, 2019
bad news for the growing racism in the world.

It will not show up in fox news.

Soon it will be labeled as "fake news" and they will come back to promote marriage within the highly similar, to dumb down the world, so they keep "choosing" tyrants.

Mar 20, 2019
bad news for the growing racism in the world.

It will not show up in fox news.

Soon it will be labeled as "fake news" and they will come back to promote marriage within the highly similar, to dumb down the world, so they keep "choosing" tyrants.
Seems like the trailer trash have that all worked out.

Mar 20, 2019
On a more serious note, this is pretty interesting. It says the more tools you have in your box, the more things you can fix. The immune system works that way; it collects protein signatures from pathogens and generates antibodies to block the pathogens. And it's extremely effective; almost no pathogens survive against the immune system.

Which is yet another argument for genetic diversity. Recombination during meiosis is essentially stochastic- and produces novel chains of alleles in the DNA, and therefore novel traits in the phenotype. This is the part of evolution where changes are introduced, but don't forget the selection that comes after. It takes both a source of novel traits and the natural selection by the environment to produce evolution.

Mar 20, 2019
& once your species finally has it all worked out?

A big space rock just happens to come hurtling in, to spoil your whole day....
Lousy, Stupid Design failures!

Mar 20, 2019
Evolving to cope with the space rocks is a given.

Mar 25, 2019
makes sense for genetic diversity, tho I prefer aryans

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