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Genetic variation in domestic reindeer and wild caribou in Alaska

January 1, 1995

Reindeer were introduced into Alaska 100 years ago and have been maintained as semidomestic livestock. They have had contact with wild caribou herds, including deliberate cross-breeding and mixing in the wild. Reindeer have considerable potential as a domestic animal for meat or velvet antler production, and wild caribou are important to subsistence and sport hunters. Our objective was to quantify the genetic relationships of reindeer and caribou in Alaska. We identified allelic variation among five herds of wild caribou and three herds of reindeer with DNA sequencing and restriction enzymes for three loci: a DQA locus of the major histocompatibility complex (Rata-DQA1), k-casein and the D-loop of mitochondrial DNA. These loci are of interest because of their potential influence on domestic animal performance and the fitness of wild populations. There is considerable genetic variation in reindeer and caribou for all three loci, including five, three and six alleles for DQA, k-casein and D-loop respectively. Most alleles occur in both reindeer and caribou, which may be the result of recent common ancestry or genetic introgression in either direction. However, allele frequencies differ considerably between reindeer and caribou, which suggests that gene flow has been limited.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1995
Title Genetic variation in domestic reindeer and wild caribou in Alaska
DOI 10.1111/j.1365-2052.1995.tb02695.x
Authors M. Cronin, L. Renecker, Barbara J. Pierson, J.C. Patton
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Animal Genetics
Index ID 1012979
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse