Rabbit coat color genes can be confusing and sound like a bunch of mumbo-jumbo, but once something just clicks, it all begins to make sense!
I've studied rabbit coat color genes for a couple years now. I'm fascinated by it. Being a rabbit breeder, it's important to know which colors could produce what, what genes are recessive and which are dominant. I also find it really fun to try and figure out my rabbits' genotype.
WHAT IS A GENOTYPE?
"A genotype is a list of symbols denoting the set of genes that an animal has. In other words, a genotype is a "gene code", or a description of the rabbit's genes written in symbols." (from About Bunny Colors, by Ellyn Eddy).
There are 5 major coat series that determine the coat color of a rabbit. They are: A B C D E.
Every rabbit on the planet has a coat color genotype. The wild bunny color is a chestnut agouti, and it's the most dominant coat color there is. That genotype looks like this: AA BB CC DD EE.
Each rabbit has dominant and recessive genes. The first gene in each pair (such as the first big "C", in the gene series above), is the dominant gene. The second (the second "C", right next to the first), is the recessive. Most wild bunnies don't carry any recessive genes. Thus, their genotype looks like the own above because they carry what they look like. They are only dominant genes. Thus their mates are those dominant genes, and their offspring are those dominant genes.
A recessive gene can't carry a dominant gene. The gene aA Bb Cc (ect), is incorrect because the recessive gene, (a), is written before the dominant gene, (A). Each letter stands for a different color or pattern. The letters are just symbols for the actual gene. We'll tackle what these symbols mean in the next blog post.
What about this genotype? Aa Bb Cc Dd Ee
That is the same color as the one above, chestnut agouti, because its dominant genes are the same. Thus, it's the same outward color. But see how the second letters per series are different? This rabbit carries recessive genes. It's offspring could be a different color then itself, or even then its mate, depending on its color.
There you have it. An introduction to rabbit coat color genes. Are you excited for more?! I hope to have Tackling the 5 Major Genotype Series up tomorrow!