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 4. Breeding and Genetics
 Question on Genetics and Genes
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sandeyes13

15 Posts

Posted - 12/22/2011 :  02:02:11 AM  Show Profile  Visit sandeyes13's Homepage  Click to see sandeyes13's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
Hey,
I've been fiddling around with genetics for a while now-- for the most part in the past its been horse genes and what little we learned from Bio 20/30 in school.
However, lately I've been thinking about alpaca genes, and have been fiddling around with punnet squares mostly just for kicks. Now, while I've had it explained to me in the past that Alpaca genetics are still fairly uncertain, I have read some of what I've been able to find on the subject via google (mostly the work from Andy and Ann Merriwether) and it spawned some questions.

Now, from what I know about horses, genes are founded in three base colours, Black, Bay and Chestnut. Then you have markings, modifiers and all sorts of other wonderful little genes, such as Overo, Splash, Sabino, Roan, Sooty, Silver, Champagne, Tobiano, Brindle, Cream, Pangare, Grey and any of the appaloosa patterns.

Since I am most familiar with horse genetics, I haven't really been able to help myself from comparing our animals colourings to what I know about horses.
I've always looked at alpaca colours as something comparable to what you see in horses-- Browns=chestnut, Bay black=Bay, as well as Browns with black points (muzzle, eyes, toes) = Wild Bay, Fading Black and True Black = Fading black and true black as is seen in horses. As well, the other markings I've seen in alpacas-- fading fawn for me, I've always seen as looking a lot like pangare in horses. Now, I know that I make these assumptions based on phenotype, and not on actual genotype, but is it possible that perhaps alpaca genetics work similar colour wise to what you see in horses?

Especially in regards to markings-- I am aware of the white spot gene, however, since there is such variety in how this gene appears, is it possible that this gene works similar to how it effects horses? I know that in horses, white markings upon the face or the legs are usually the cause of Sabino, Splash, Tobiano, Frame Overo, or some other KIT mutations. Would these be possibly applied to alpacas? I know that extensive coverage of Frame Overo, as well as extensive coverage of Sabino can cause animals to appear dominant white in horses. As well, the application of the Splash gene to the face often results in blue eyes within horses. So, considering this, could it be that alpacas displaying white coats, who throw animals with white spots could perhaps be effected by some variation of one of the above markings? Could this possibly explain why blue eyed white are born, when both parents display a white spot, especially if these spots are actually some form of splash?

These white markings could also explain multi's and appaloosas within the alpacas as well-- Tobiano, Splash, and Frame Overo all cause irregular white markings within horses, sometimes extensively so that they appear to be white with the odd coloured splotch. Sabino when mixed with one of these other genes can cause roaning, as well as solid patches of white, especially when mixed with Overo. So, if something similar to this was mixed with an alpaca version of sabino and overo, perhaps it would explain pintaloosa markings that sometimes show up-- as is the case with our one Multi girl Eos.

Sabino could also explain some of the markings we see in greys. As sabino includes roaning, and in some cases causes roaning over the whole body (as is the case with our Belgian draft mare, who is as far as I can tell ee/aa/nCr/Sb (whether she is dominant, recessive or heterozygous I have no idea). Now, if this was applied to alpacas, it would explain why so many grey alpacas have white faces, as a white face is something that Sabino causes, and if the roaning is extensive, it could cause the roaning that you see in the mixture or light and dark fibres within an alpacas coat. Paired with a base on black or red, you would get your steel, silver or rose greys.

And, if this grey who was really a sabino was crossed with another animal displaying Frame Overo, or Splash, minimally or expressed extensively, this could explain the prominence of blue eyed whites, as well as other non solid colours.

Honestly, I know very little on the subject of alpaca genes, and only the real basics of horse genes, and really am making conclusions based on the little knowledge that I do have-- however, I am really interested in seeing if some of this could possibly be applicable. I would really love to learn more on the subject, and if any of you guys could help me out that'd be great. So, is it possible that some of this would be applicable? I know their two very different species, but I'd be interested in seeing if possibly something could act so similarly between these guys.

Thank you very much, I'm sure I probably digresses somewhere within the above wall of text, and hope that some sense could be made from what I rattled out, lol.

Please have a great evening,
Paityn E.
Northern Mystery Alpacas

jillmcm

3204 Posts

Posted - 12/22/2011 :  06:22:53 AM  Show Profile  Visit jillmcm's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Paityn, I think you would find a few more things to be interesting reads:

http://www.alpaca.asn.au/pub/about/info/readings/docs/inheritance_white_colour.pdf (don't be fooled by the title, it covers all colors)

The Alpaca Colour Key by Elizabeth Paul

Both of these go into fairly similar explanations of alpaca color markings with respect to two basal colors, red and black. There hasn't been nearly the work done in alpacas as has been done in horses (dogs, cats, rabbits...) but while many colors and patterns are likely produced by similar genes, I would be wary of making exact comparisons. In the species we do know more about, the same phenotype may be caused by very different genetic effects.


Jill McElderry-Maxwell
Bag End Suri Alpacas of Maine - ¡BESAME!
Benton, ME
(207) 453-0109
bagendsuris@roadrunner.com
http://www.bagendsuris.com
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JimR

1046 Posts

Posted - 12/22/2011 :  08:18:11 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I am from a horse background also, and I don't remember a blue eyed horse being deaf, like a lot of BEW alpacas are.
I would think if the white spot came from the splash gene both would be deaf, not just alpacas. JMO I know zero about genetics. Very interesting theory though. In the spring & summer when I look forward to the cria births, I really look forward to the colors created(I breed for gray, appy, etc)from the different pairings more than anything.
When I sit on my porch and watch the herd in the field, I don't think I would get nearly as much enjoyment watching them if they were all the same color.

Susan Rempe
Four Corners Alpacas
Bloomfield NM 87413
505 360-8375
River11524@msn.com
www.AlpacaNation.com/fourcorners.asp
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rackapaca

663 Posts

Posted - 12/22/2011 :  10:42:49 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Would really like to see some statistics on all these BEW deaf alpacas. I have had 3 BEW, none of them deaf, and have met several people that have had them and only 1 in about a dozen was really deaf. I have one brown guy I swear is deaf until I rattle the pellet pan and another black one that actually shows no reaction to noises at all unless you whisper, yelling gets you ignored. So when people start telling me that my BEW is deaf, I wonder how they know that when he comes when called, hears me when I drive in, reacts when I call from the top of the paddock etc. So I tested him by hiding behind the house etc and I am pretty darned certain he hears just fine.

Ruthann
Racka Paca Ranch
Kila, MT
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jillmcm

3204 Posts

Posted - 12/22/2011 :  11:28:41 AM  Show Profile  Visit jillmcm's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Ruthann, it's almost impossible to tell is an alpaca is deaf from behavior testing because they are incredibly good at both picking up non-auditory cues and ignoring auditory cues even when they hear them . There has been research done with actual nerve testing, and in the one study I could find offhand, 78% of the BEWs tested were deaf. Here's a link to the abstract.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1939-1676.2005.tb02757.x/abstract

Jill McElderry-Maxwell
Bag End Suri Alpacas of Maine - ¡BESAME!
Benton, ME
(207) 453-0109
bagendsuris@roadrunner.com
http://www.bagendsuris.com
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rackapaca

663 Posts

Posted - 12/22/2011 :  2:26:08 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
K thanks, I will read this, but if they don't see me and I call from around the corner and they come running -- sorry I think they hear me. And if sneak up with no response and then shake some pellets in a pan and they jump up and walk over, I say they heard it. But I am not an expert only going on my experiences.

Ruthann
Racka Paca Ranch
Kila, MT
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jillmcm

3204 Posts

Posted - 12/22/2011 :  2:53:35 PM  Show Profile  Visit jillmcm's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Yours may very well be able to hear, Ruthann - there are definitely BEWs that can. But some deaf alpacas are so good at cluing in to what their hearing pasture mates are doing that you would never know thy are deaf.


Jill McElderry-Maxwell
Bag End Suri Alpacas of Maine - ¡BESAME!
Benton, ME
(207) 453-0109
bagendsuris@roadrunner.com
http://www.bagendsuris.com
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sandeyes13

15 Posts

Posted - 12/22/2011 :  4:27:20 PM  Show Profile  Visit sandeyes13's Homepage  Click to see sandeyes13's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
Jill, thank you for the link. It is really interesting! :D As well, I do agree with you that the genes that effect our animals colours are likely to be very different between species, however, I was just comparing the two because I wanted to see if it was possible for alpacas to have genes (that while they are not the same) maybe act similarly to the way horses genes do.

Susan, while agree that there aren't horses with blue eyes going deaf, there are cases where horses get double copies of the overo gene, causing lethal overo. While of course this is considerably more extreme in horses, I do know that in cats who end up with extreme white markings and blue eyes often end up deaf as well. The same goes for some breeds of dogs-- Boxers in particular, are known for the odd litter between two very flashy parents that produces a mostly white puppy. In the past breeders have often culled these puppies, as I've had it explained to me that these puppies are more likely to be deaf or blind.
So perhaps, maybe the white spot gene doesn't act like splash in horses, but maybe the white markings you see in breeds such s Boxers? The only thing I see there, however, is that boxers don't normally end up with blue eyes.
Lol we also breed for colour, and enjoy the variation that we see within our herd. We have yet to breed any greys (we are trying very hard to though!) although to date we've produced two fawns each with a single brown spot somewhere on their body, one maroony-brown and one brown multi-appaloosa girl. :)
Thank you for all of the input so far guys!

-Paityn E.
Northern Mystery Alpacas
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jillmcm

3204 Posts

Posted - 12/22/2011 :  9:56:24 PM  Show Profile  Visit jillmcm's Homepage  Reply with Quote
For gray genetics, you'll enjoy grayalpacacentral.com - more than you ever wanted to know

Jill McElderry-Maxwell
Bag End Suri Alpacas of Maine - ¡BESAME!
Benton, ME
(207) 453-0109
bagendsuris@roadrunner.com
http://www.bagendsuris.com
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nyala

3318 Posts

Posted - 12/25/2011 :  11:39:36 AM  Show Profile  Visit nyala's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi,

There are some very different basic color genetics going on compared to horses and some similarities. The way the base colors work in horses is not the way it appears to work in alpacas. Andy is always happy to send this chapter he wrote for the AOBA handbook (has not come out yet) if folks are interested. Just send him an email, andym@binghamton.edu



Ann

D. Andrew Merriwether, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Anthropology and Biology, Binghamton University
and
Ann and Andy Merriwether
Nyala Farm Alpacas,Vestal, NY
www.alpacanation.com/nyalafarm.asp
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