- Genetic improvement of fibre-producing animal species has often induced transition from double coated to single coated fleece, accompanied by dramatic changes in skin follicles and hair composition, likely implying variation at multiple loci. Huacaya, the more common fleece phenotype in alpaca (Vicugna pacos), is characterized by a thick dense coat growing perpendicularly from the body, whereas the alternative rare and more prized single-coated Suri phenotype is distinguished by long silky fibre that grows parallel to the body and hangs in separate, distinctive pencil locks. A single-locus genetic model has been proposed for the Suri-Huacaya phenotype, where Huacaya is recessive.
- The segregation of suri and huacaya fleece types in alpacas in the United States deviates from that expected from results of previously published studies from other regions. Suri × suri matings produced 278 huacaya and 1702 suri offspring. Suri × huacaya matings produced 89 huacaya and 56 suri offspring. Huacaya × huacaya matings produced 19,633 huacaya and 4 suri offspring. No linkage or other influence of sex was noted. These results are consistent with a single autosomal dominant gene controlling suri fleece production, with an additional relatively common genetic mechanism that can suppress the suri phenotype in some animals. These results are especially important in cases where the two fleece types are crossed with one another, as they result in a relative underproduction of suri fleeces.
- The inheritance of the two types of fleece, Suri and Huacaya, observed in Alpaca (Lama pacos L.) is still not clearly defined. The objective of this work is to investigate the patter of inheritance of these two phenotypes, throughout 588 Suri x Suri and 2126 Huacaya x Huacaya offspring. The single gene and the three two-phenotype epistatic models were tested in the 19 Suri x Suri segregating families. The single dominant gene hypothesis best fitted our segregation data and could be, therefore, accepted (Gt=20.276, P=0.378). The gene frequency of the recessive Huacaya allele was 0.295, being the frequency of the dominant Suri allele 0.705. The frequency of heterozygotes, estimated in the whole population and among dominant individuals, was 0.416 and 0.455, respectively, with a “carrier” Suri to Huacaya ratio of 4.780. In three Huacaya families, 3 Suri were born, as a result of a new dominant mutation on some germinal lines of Huacaya animals. The direct mutation rate can be estimated at 0.0014.
- Four fibre traits (fibre diameter, FD; coefficient of variation of FD, comfort factor; and standard deviation of FD) were jointly analysed with six subjectively scored type traits (fleece density, crimp, lock structure, head, coverage, and balance) in two breeds of Peruvian Altiplano alpaca (Suri, SU; and Huacayo, HU) to ascertain their genetic relationship. A total of 2405 fibre records and 2194 type scores were available for the HU breed whereas these figures were 709 for fibre records and 650 for type scores for the SU breed. Estimated heritabilities for fibre traits were moderate to high, ranging from 0.565 to 0.699 in the SU breed and from 0.255 to 0.417 in the HU breed. Genetic and permanent environmental correlations between fibre related traits were extremely similar across breeds suggesting that these traits are fairly the same. Heritabilities estimated for the type traits tended to be lower than those estimated for the fibre traits particularly in the SU breed (ranging from 0.173 to 0.272). Fibre and type traits were, in general, genetically poorly correlated except for crimp in the HU breed, which had favourable correlations, from moderate to high, for fibre traits. In Altiplano areas in which fibre performance recording could not be implemented, crimp scoring makes it feasible to carry out mass selection in the Huacayo breed and furthermore include rural communities in national or regional selection programmes.