Austrian Science Foundation (FWF) grant P24711-B21 (see also Vetdoc)
Project duration: September 2012 - August 2015
Project Leader: Doz. Dr. Dustin Penn
Other team members: Mag. Dr. Michaela Thoß
Kenneth Cody Luzynski, M.Sc.
House mice (Mus musculus) communicate through complex chemical signals, which convey a surprising amount of information about an individual (e.g., social status, health, infection status, disease resistance), and they mediate kin recognition and inbreeding avoidance. Understanding how chemical signals provide such information has been a major challenge. Male house mice produce large quantities of protein in their urine (major urinary proteins or MUPs), which transport pheromones to the urine and stabilize the release of these volatiles from scent marks over time. MUPs are encoded by 21 functional genes in mice and individuals vary in the number of MUPs they express in their urine. It has been suggested that MUPs provide a unique individual signature or ‘barcode’ that mediates individual recognition, kin recognition, and mating preferences. Our general aim is to investigate variation in MUPs and test whether they provide signals of individual compatibility or quality to potential mates.