Three Little Ladies Rabbitry, Jersey Wooly
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Common Genetics Terms

When studying genetics you will often here some very unfamiliar words. Words get further confused when they are incorrectly used on a web site. It is important that you understand certain words related to genetics in order to correctly apply what you know about your rabbits and be able to predict future offsprings. Below are some common genetics words and their definition. We have tried to put them into everyday language so you can understand what they are and how they relate to your rabbits.

For the purpose of giving us an understanding of how genetics terms works we’ll be referring to the A Locus (or set) of the rabbit. This is also known as the Agouti pattern locus. Three genes or alleles make up this locus, A (agouti), at(tan) and a(self).

Locus / Allele

Locus: The location of certain genes on a chromosome is the technical definition of this word. To make it simple though, you can refer to it as the set of genes that makes up a particular characteristic. So for rabbit color there are five major Loci (plural for Locus) that make up the color of the rabbit: A, B, C, D, E. The A locus refers to the agouti hair pattern.

Allele: Each Locus of the rabbit is made up of several possible genes, each of these is known as an allele. For the A locus there are three possible alleles as mentioned above A, at and a. They will always be present in any combination of two. When the parent has an offspring it will pass on one of the two alleles to itself offspring.

Dominant / Recessive

Dominant: This would be the stronger of the genes . It will always be seen in the rabbit if it is present.

Recessive: This would be the weaker of the genes. If a more dominant gene is present this gene can be carried but will not be seen in the rabbit.

In the A gene set, A (agouti) is most dominant, followed by at (tan) which is recessive to A (agouti) but dominant over a (self). The non dominant gene or recessive gene is the (self) gene. Let’s look at the possible alleles from above and determine the appearance.

A A – Agouti

A at – Agouti carrying the tan gene, because agouti is dominant

A a – Agouti carrying the self gene, because agouti is dominant

at at – Tan

at a – Tan carrying the self gene, because tan is dominant

a a – Self

Genotype / Phenotype

Genotype: All those letters that tell us what the rabbit will look like. For example a black rabbit might be something like this aaBBCCDDEE.

Phenotype: What the rabbit appears to us. In the example above: black.

Heterogenious / Homogenous

Heterogenious: The two genes in the allele are not the same. As an example: Aa or Aat

Homogenous: The two genes in the allele are the same. As an example: AA or aa

Punnett Square

Punnett Square: A tool used by British geneticist Reginald Punnett to predict the likelihood of an offspring having a particular genotype. View another artilce on our site, as we explain punnett squares and a little bit about how to use them.