Free Access
Genet. Sel. Evol.
Volume 36, Number 2, March-April 2004
Page(s) 207 - 216
Genet. Sel. Evol. 36 (2004) 207-216
DOI: 10.1051/gse:2003059

Genetic variability of the pattern of night melatonin blood levels in relation to coat changes development in rabbits

Daniel Allaina, Benoit Malpauxb, François Puechala, René Gérard Thébaultc, Hubert de Rochambeaua and Philippe Chemineaub

a  Station d'amélioration génétique des animaux, Institut national de la recherche agronomique, BP 27, 31326 Castanet Tolosan, France
b  Physiologie de la reproduction et des comportements, neuroendocrinologie, Institut national de la recherche agronomique, 37380 Nouzilly, France
c  Génétique animale phanères, Le Magneraud, Institut national de la recherche agronomique, BP 56, 17700 Surgères, France

(Received 6 June 2002; accepted 25 September 2003)

To assess the genetic variability in both the nocturnal increase pattern of melatonin concentration and photoresponsiveness in coat changes, an experiment on 422 Rex rabbits (from 23 males) raised under a constant light programme from birth was performed. The animals were sampled at 12 weeks of age, according to 4 periods over a year. Blood samples were taken 7 times during the dark phase and up to 1 h after the lighting began. Maturity of the fur was assessed at pelting. Heritability estimates of blood melatonin concentration (0.42, 0.17 and 0.11 at mid-night, 13 and 15 h after lights-out respectively) and strong genetic correlations between fur maturity and melatonin levels at the end of the dark phase ( -0.64) indicates that (i) the variability of the nocturnal pattern of melatonin levels is under genetic control and (ii) the duration of the nocturnal melatonin increase is a genetic component of photoresponsiveness in coat changes.

Key words: rabbit / coat development / melatonin secretion / genetic variability

Correspondence and reprints: Daniel Allain

© INRA, EDP Sciences 2004