Monday, May 16, 2011

Oh Mr Mendel, where are you?

When the talk turns to alleles and genes and Punnett squares, some folks’ eyes glaze over while others get very very excited. If you are one of those who start thinking about what you are having for dinner when the ABCDEs roll into the conversation, just stick with me and give it a shot.  This won’t be a full lesson, just a tidbit.  If you want to produce colors (varieties) that can be shown, then you need to know some basics about rabbit color genetics. 

There are five genes that determine most of the varieties of colors shown in Fuzzies (Note I said “most”, not “all”).  Each of these genes has at least two alleles (or versions) that will determine some feature of the rabbits color. 

DSCN0028First is the “A” or agouti series.  This gene determines whether a rabbit with exhibit agouti, tan or self pattern, thus there are three possible alleles of this gene.

The “B” series is next, and is sometimes called the basic series.  Its easiest to think that all rabbits are either black or brown.


The “C” series, or pigment series, controls the amount of pigment in the hair shaft and has six different alleles that produce rabbits that range from full colored to albinos (ruby eyed white).


The “D” series or color intensity gene controls the intensity of color resulting in either intense color, e.g. black, or dilute, e.g. blue.


The extension gene, “E” controls the extension of black to the fur tips.


There are two other genes that are important to us also.  First is the gene that produces either solid or brokens.  Any color can be broken. Then there is another gene, usually termed Vienna or Blue-eyed white that can conceal all colors and produce a BEW.

Photos are from rabbits that were class winners at AFLRC National shows and ARBA Conventions. 

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