Studying DNA through digital data recources

The genetics study focusses on the inhertiance of colors and patterns in African Pygmy Hedgehogs. with this information we can build a clear and accurate color guide with animal genetic codes to help breeders to predict the outcome in their litters. Als oin combination with the health study, we might be able to link certain colors and patterns to health issues and warn breeders about breeding those variations.

It seems a bit farfetched to claim that we are studying their DNA through digital information, but thanks to an entire community trusting us enough to provide information about their pet hedgehogs and the litters they produce, it is exactly what we do.

How do we collect information

Through the submission form in the menu, regular owners of hedgehogs can submit their bred litters or simply the information they have on their hedgehog and its parents. And aside from that, we work together with a few clubs and registries to get parental information on their registered hedgehogs as well as using anonimised information from our on registry; THP Registry. Through these methods, we’ve managed to collect well over 5000 pedigrees in our first few years.

How do we study the digital information

The datatables in de menu display our collected didigtal information on various hedgehogs, some of them having extra information in our offline database identified with a special case number. With all of this information we can analyse if certain colors behave in a recessive or dominant way and if they perhaps come forward in certain genders or in combination with other variaties. If this a re-occuring event, we might be able to conduct a theory from it and study the specific variaty to see if the behaviour matches one of the different froms of inheritance.

To test our theories, we might ask collaborating breeders if they have a litter planned with hedgehogs that match the varieties we need for our study. This way we don’t have to do any animal testing for our studies and can simple observe the litters of collaborating breeders around the world. If the outcome of multiple litters matches what we predicted, we can be sure the mutation inherits through the form of inheritance we expected.

↓♀ / ♂→ Aa
AAAAa
aAaaa
↓♀ / ♂→ aa
AAaAa
aaaaa
↓♀ / ♂→ aa
aaaaa
aaaaa

The Prunett square

Luckily enough there are only a few forms of inheritance, which makes it fairly easy to study. Aside from that, in animal breeding we don’t have to know the exact mutation in the DNA to be able to predict the outcome of litters. The Prunett square enables breeders to calculate alleles using alphabetical codes in either capital letters and lowercase letters. This is done according to Mendel’s Genetic Laws.

Genetic code example Form of inheritance
aa Autosomal recessive
AA or Aa Autosomal dominant
aa or a
Males more often affected.
X-linked recessive
AA, Aa or A
Females more often affected.
X-linked dominant
aa
Can only be passed on by females.
Mitochondrial recessive
AA or Aa
Can only be passed on by females.
Mitochondrial dominant
BB:aa or Bb:aa Codominant

All of these forms of inheritance have their own way of inheriting and being displayed phenotypically, even though they might be similar genotypically. Because if this, it is very important to learn the differences between every form of inheritance to be able to work with animal genetics and accurately calculate outcomes of litters.

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