Pros and Cons of Inbreeding. PROS AND CONS OF INBREEDINGCopyright 1. Sarah Hartwell. Inbreeding is the mating together of closely related cats, for example motherson, fatherdaughter, siblingsibling matings and half siblinghalf sibling. It is the pairing of animals which are more closely related than the average population. For breeders, it is a useful way of fixing traits in a breed the pedigrees of some exhibition cats show that many of their forebears are closely related. For example, the name of Fan Tee Cee shown in the 1. Siamese pedigrees, sometimes several times in a single pedigree, as breeders were anxious to make their lines more typey. Superb specimens are always much sought after for stud services or offspring unless they have already been neutered cloning may solve that problem in the future having won the approval of show judges. To produce cats which closely meet the breed standard, breeders commonly mate together animals which are related and which share desirable characteristics. Over time, sometimes only one or two generations, those characteristics will become homozygous genetically uniform and all offspring of the inbred animal will inherit the genes for those characteristics breed true. Breeders can predict how the offspring will look. Line breeding is not a term used by geneticists, but comes from livestock husbandry. It indicates milder forms of inbreeding. Line breeding is still a form of inbreeding i. The difference between line breeding and inbreeding may be defined differently for different species of animals and even for different breeds within the same species. It is complicated by the fact that a cats half brother might also be her father However, inbreeding holds potential problems. The limited gene pool caused by continued inbreeding means that deleterious genes become widespread and the breed loses vigour. Laboratory animal suppliers depend on this to create uniform strains of animal which are immuno depressed or breed true for a particular disorder e. Such animals are so inbred as to be genetically identical clones, a situation normally only seen in identical twins. Similarly, a controlled amount of inbreeding can be used to fix desirable traits in farm livestock e. In human terms, inbreeding is considered incest cats do not have incest taboos. Outcrossing is when the two parents are totally unrelated. In pedigree animals, this often means where a common ancestor does not occur behind either parent within a four or five generation pedigree. In animals with a small foundation gene pool, this condition is difficult to meet. One of the first people to document the methodical use of inbreeding was. Robert Bakewell born 1. Leicestershire, UK who called his system. Until Bakewell, British livestock was. By segregating the males and using his in and in system. Bakewell controlled which traits were passed on to subsequent. This included breeding only the best rams and bulls to. In the pre genetics age, Bakewell used. British livestock and. First I will define some terms used by animal breeders. In general Ive avoided specialist terms, but you will meet these terms outside of this article. Homozygous means having inherited the same gene for a particular trait from both parent e. Barring random mutation, 1. Inbreeding increases homozygosity by fixing a particular trait. Purebred animals display a high degree of homozygosity compared to mixed breeds and random bred animals. The idea of purebred animals is that they should breed true. When one purebred is mated with another of the same breed, the offspring will have uniform characteristics and will resemble the parents. Recipes For A Crowd. Heterozygous means having inherited a different gene for a particular trait from each parent. For example one gene of long fur recessive and one gene for short fur dominant. Carefully controlled out crossing increases heterozygosity for selected traits by introducing new genes into the hybrid offspring. Heterosis is the scientific term for hybrid vigour. It is possible that there are bad genes which produce less vigourous individuals when in the homozygous state because good genes have been bred out along with the undesirable characteristics theoretically the bad genes could be bred out, but in practice this doesnt seem to happen. The other theory is simply that you simply need to have a mixture of two different genes to get the desired effect as they somehow complement each other highly inbred animals lack this diversity and have poorer immune systems. Sex linked refers to a trait which is passed on, or determined by, a particular gender. In Abyssinian cats there are several versions of the red colour. One is sex linked i. Degree of homozygosity means the number of genes an animal is homozygous for. If most of its genes are matched pairs it has a high degree of homozygosity if most of its genes are mismatched pairs it has a low degree of homozygosity. An animal can be homozygous for some traits, but heterozygous for others. NATURAL OCCURRANCE OF INBREEDINGThis is not to say that inbreeding does not occur naturally. A feral colony which is isolated from other cats, by geographical or other factors, can become very inbred especially if a dominant male mates with his sisters, then with his daughters and grand daughters. When he is deposed it will most likely be by his own son or grandson which therefore continues the inbreeding. The effect of any deleterious genes becomes noticeable in later generations as the majority of the offspring inherit these genes. Scientists have discovered that cheetahs, even if living in different areas, are genetically very similar. Possibly disease or disaster drastically reduced cheetah numbers in the past creating a genetic bottleneck. All modern day cheetahs may be descended from a single surviving family unit hence their genetic uniformity. In the Cheetah, the lack of genetic diversity makes them susceptible to disease since they lack the ability to resist certain viruses. Extreme inbreeding affects their reproductive success with small litter sizes and high mortality rates. Some scientists hope that the appearance of the King Cheetah, characterised by its blotched markings, means that the Cheetah can develop a healthier gene pool through mutation provided man doesnt wipe them out in the meantime. Mankind has contributed to the loss of diversity by sport hunting cheetahs and reducing the number of available mates. Hunters preferred to shoot unusual specimens i. Despite the hopes of scientists, some cheetah populations are showing further signs of inbreeding. Confined to ever smaller areas such as wildlife reserves, the populations have become genetically isolated from each other. In one population there is an increasing frequency of misaligned jaws and kinked tails. Continued inbreeding will reinforce, or fix, these traits. Ultimately, they could reduce the cheetahs hunting effectiveness the kinked tail will reduce its agility and cornering ability and the misaligned jaws may not be able to hold onto prey. The wolf was once widespread throughout North American, but many of the remaining packs are isolated and have become inbred. The isolationinbreeding problem has become so acute that conservationists have taken wolves from one area and introduced them into a another area to revitalise the gene pool. In some areas, the choice of mates is so reduced that wolves have resorted to mating with domestic dogs an extreme form of outcrossing called hybridization. A similar situation in Scotland where the Scottish Wildcat mates with domestic cats is threatening to wipe out the wildcat as domestic cat genes become more widespread. These are two cases where outcrossing following, and followed by, inbreeding may lead to extinction of a species analogous to loss of type in domestic breeds. Another animal suffering from the effects of inbreeding is the Giant Panda.