Who Knocked Up Your Cat? Assignment

A Feline Paternity Suit

Your favorite cat has just given birth to three kittens. Depending upon the knowledge you have gained from Chapters 3 and 4, your job is to determine which of your neighbor’s cats is the father. Use the provided phenotypic information, your knowledge of genetics, Mendelian inheritance, and your power of deduction to complete the following steps. The end result will be a description of the culprit.

You will be prompted to enter information from below set of questions into Moodle. Please be sure you pay attention to the prompt as sometimes Moodle changes the order of the information.

Genetics of the Domestic Cat

Just by looking closely at a cat we can distinguish more than 15 genetic traits. The following is a list of the more common phenotypes (PHYSICAL CHAiRACTERISTICS), with the appropriate allele, for domesticated cats. The traits are Mendelian, or discountinuous, meaning they have either/or expressions, not a blending, and are classified as “wild” or “mutant.” Wild traits are presumed to be traits that were present in the “first” wild cat. Mutant traits presumably developed as a mutation that occurred in the sex cells of a wild cat and were passed on to that cat’s offspring. A capitalized letter is a dominant trait, while a lower case letter is a recessive trait. Please keep in mind: in Mendelian inheritance, if an organism inherits ONE copy of the dominant allele, they will phenotypically have that trait.

Wild

Mutant

allele

phenotype

allele

phenotype

A

agouti

a

non-agouti (black)

B

black pigment

b

brown pigment

D

dense pigment

d

dilute pigment

i

wild type pigment

I

inhibits agouti (silver)

L

short hair

l

long hair

m

long tail

M

manx (stubby) tail

o

non-orange

O

orange

p

normal toes

P

polydactyly (extra toes)

s

no white spots

S

piebald (white spots)

T

mackerel striped

t

blotched striped

w

not all white

W

all white

A tabby cat with parallel black stripes against a grey/tan background is considered the wild type coloration.

tan cat with black stripes

The black stripe is produced by the dominant allele B, with the recessive b producing the brown color. The grey/tan background, or stripe, found in many wild animals, is called agouti (or ticking). The dominant allele A produced the agouti condition. The homozygous recessive condition, aa, masks or prevents the expression of the light colored band. A cat with the genotype aaBB or aaBb would be pure black.

Black cat

A cat with the genotype aabb would be pure brown (see photo 3).

brown cat

Other examples of masking involve the allele W. W masks the expression of any other allele for color that may be present. Therefore a genotype of aaBBww would appear to indicate an all black cat. However, the presence of the W allele masks even the black stripe, making for an all white cat.

all white cat

The orange coloration masks the black or brown stripe making for an orange tabby like Morris (if you’ve heard of Morris – he used to on television commercials for cat food blush). The agouti allele is not affected by the orange allele – aaOO or aaOo would still be a striped cat.

orange cat

In the wild type tabby cat, the allele I inhibits (not masks) the agouti grey/tan color, but allows the black or brown stripe to appear. The agouti region becomes white or the so-called silver color. The recessive allele i allows the wild type pigmentation.

gray and black striped cat

The alleles for white spotting (called piebald) demonstrate inheritance by incomplete dominance. White spotted cats inherit the alleles independent of any other alleles for color. Thus, white spotting can be found in conjunction with any other coloration. White spotting is also independent of the pure white coloration caused by the allele W and the two should not be confused. A cat can be WWSS, meaning that it is all white with white spotting. While there is much variation, in general, SS produces cats with extensive spotting (more than half of the body), Ss cats are mildly spotted (less than half the body), and cats with the genotype ss exhibit no white spotting; this is a codominant relationship rather than a dominant-recessive one. An otherwise black cat with a small patch of white hairs would be classified as Ss.

densely spotted cat with SS genotype

Dense coloration is the normal condition. Dilute coloration is a muted or softened tone of the color. For example, orange will become “cream” and black will become grayish or what is sometimes called “blue”.

The pattern of stripes is either mackerel, the stripes being vertical to the spine, or blotched, meaning the coat has a swirl pattern. Many times the cat will look as if it has a “bulls eye” on its side.

mackerel striped cat

Task 1
1.Determine all possible genotypes of the kittens based on their phenotypes. Remember genotypes are the result of one allele inherited from mom and one inherited from dad!

Kitten #1 is an all black cat.

trait

phenotype

All possible genotypes

hair length (L/l)

short

tail length
(M/m)

long

pigmentation
(I/i)

wild type

ticking
(A/a)

non-agouti

coat pattern
(T/t)

mackerel

stripe color
(B/b)

black

color density
(D/d)

dense

other coat colors (W/w)

not white

Kitten #2 is almost exactly like its mother.

traittrait

phenotype

All possible genotypes

hair length
(L/l)

short

tail length
(M/m)

long

pigmentation
(I/i)

wild type

ticking
(A/a)

agouti

coat pattern
(T/t)

mackerel

stripe color
(B/b)

brown

color density
(D/d)

dense

other coat colors (W/w)

not white

Kitten #3 is an all white cat. Please keep in mind, just because the kitten is all white, doesn’t mean it lacks the genes for other traits.

trait

phenotype

All possible genotypes

hair length
(L/l)

short

tail length
(M/m)

Short

pigmentation
(I/i)

not wild

ticking
(A/a)

non-agouti

coat pattern
(T/t)

mackerel

stripe color
(B/b)

black

color density
(D/d)

dilute

other coat colors(W/w)

white

Task 2

Answer the following questions taking into account the mother’s genetic information. This may mean some of the possible genotypes you listed for the kittens may not be possible. DO NOT change your answers for Task 1; simply keep this information handy for Task 3.

The mother’s genetic information is:

trait

phenotype

genotypes

hair length

long

l l

tail length

long

m m

pigmentation

wild type

i i

ticking

agouti

A a

coat pattern

mackerel

T t

stripe color

black

B b

color density

dense

D d

other coat colors

not white

w w

2a. Why is kitten #1 an all black cat?

2b. How does kitten # 2 differ from its mother?

2c. Why is kitten #3 an all white cat?

Task 3

Determine all possible genotypes for the potential father. HINT: if you know what the mother has, and what the kittens could be, you work backwards to get the dad. For instance, you know the hair length of mom: ll

Based on the principles of inheritance, mom can ONLY pass on the l allele. Right off the bat you know the kittens have to be ll or Ll. Take a look at the possible genotypes you identified for your kittens. If any of the genotypes included LL, you know the kittens are NOT LL. Mom did not have an L to pass on.

trait

All possible genotypes

hair length

tail length

pigmentation

ticking

coat pattern

stripe color

color density

other coat colors

p(1)

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