Genetic diversity of laboratory gray short-tailed opossums (Monodelphis domestica): effect of newly introduced wild-caught animals

Lab Anim Sci. 1992 Jun;42(3):255-60.


The colony of gray, short-tailed opossums (Monodelphis domestica) at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, the primary supplier of this species for research purposes, was founded with nine animals trapped in 1978 in the state of Pernambuco, Brazil. Since 1984, 14 newly acquired founders from the state of Paraiba, Brazil have contributed to the gene pool of the colony. The animals from Paraiba and their descendants are significantly larger than the founders from Pernambuco and their descendants. The two groups also differ significantly in several measurements of morphologic traits. The changes in proportional contribution of each founder to the colony, and changes in inbreeding coefficients during the colony's history, are evaluated. Using previously established markers and three newly identified markers (ACP2, APRT, and DIA1), we show that the Paraiba-derived animals differ significantly from the original founders in allele frequencies and heterozygosity. The genetic diversity of the colony has been substantially increased by acquisition of the new founders from Paraiba. The colony is highly polymorphic, with 22.2% of loci surveyed by protein electrophoresis being variable. We conclude that the genetic differences between populations and among projects within the colony should be considered in future colony management procedures and in selection of experimental subjects.

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Animals, Laboratory
  • Breeding / methods*
  • Female
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Genome
  • Inbreeding
  • Male
  • Opossums / genetics*
  • Phenotype