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Open Access Assessment of Genetic Management at Three Specific-Pathogen-Free Rhesus Macaque (Macaca mulatta) Colonies

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Genetic management is required to maintain genetic diversity by minimizing inbreeding and genetic subdivision in colonies of animals bred for biomedical research. Polymorphic short tandem repeat (STR) loci are useful for genetic management because they facilitate parentage assignments, genetic characterization of individuals, and estimates of baseline population genetic parameters. Using highly informative STR loci, we estimated gene diversity and F-statistics to determine the level of genetic heterogeneity and genetic structure of three specific-pathogen-free (SPF) rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) colonies. Effective population sizes, variance in male reproductive success, and rate of decrease in genetic variability also were estimated for two of the three colonies.

We documented the overall success of genetic management in maintaining genetic diversity in captive colonies. We report that even genetically managed SPF colonies, despite maintaining high and stable levels of gene diversity (over 0.75), are prone to genetic subdivision due to different management strategies, founder effects, genetic isolation, and drift. These processes are accelerated by the high variances in male reproductive success and low adult sex ratios that are typical of captive rhesus macaque breeding groups, both of which reduce the effective population sizes of these groups.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Internal Medicine, University of Iowa College of Medicine and Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Room 10E08 VAMC, Iowa City, Iowa 52246 2: Department of Anthropology and California Regional Primate Research Center, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, California 95616

Publication date: October 1, 2002

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  • Comparative Medicine (CM), an international journal of comparative and experimental medicine, is the leading English-language publication in the field and is ranked by the Science Citation Index in the upper third of all scientific journals. The mission of CM is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information that expands biomedical knowledge and promotes human and animal health through the study of laboratory animal disease, animal models of disease, and basic biologic mechanisms related to disease in people and animals.

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