زئوتکنیک Zootechnie

برای علاقمندان پرورش و اصلاح نژاد دام

Biodiversity of domestic rabbit breeds

Press kit item. 01/02/2005

In the context of a European programme1, researchers at INRA2 and their colleagues have been studying several breeds of domestic rabbit. The data arising from this study are necessary to gain a clearer understanding of the genetic diversity of this species, and to conserve it. It may also contribute to improving farmed breeds and diversify them through the use of certain advantageous genetic traits.

 

Domestication of the rabbit only goes back to the 18th century. Today, domestic and wild breeds still coexist. The early breeds, referred to as patrimonial breeds, were mainly created during the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. National breeders' associations today count around 60 patrimonial breeds of domestic rabbits, which are present in several European countries.
Today, world production levels of rabbit meat reach 1.5 million tonnes per year, 65% of which come from Europe. Since the second half of the 20th century, new strains, arising from the crossing of these rabbit breeds, have been created for breeding and meat production. Indeed, farmers rarely use patrimonial breeds for commercial production, and production is based on specialised strains created from at least 10 breeds. However, domestic patrimonial breeds exhibit a wide variety of traits and constitute a reservoir of genetic diversity: size, development, colour, fur type, etc.
Over a 4-year period, researchers have been studying different European domestic breeds with the aim of recording, characterising, evaluating and conserving their genetic diversity, in collaboration with breeders' associations, and notably the FFC (Fédération Française de Cuniculiculture, or French Federation of Rabbit Breeders).

The first inventory of genetic resources

During the initial stages, their work consisted in compiling an inventory of the different rabbit breeds in Europe. 150 breeds or domestic populations from 11 countries were identified. From the patrimonial breeds, as a function of criteria of economic importance and primary traits, ten breeds were chosen: the Argenté de Champagne, the French Lop-Eared, the Blanc de Vienne, the Thuringian Dwarf, the Chinchilla, the Fauve de Bourgogne, the Flemish Giant, the Belgian Hare, the English Spot and the Russian rabbit, to which should be added the Hungarian Giant and the Spanish Giant. These breeds were the subject of more in-depth study.

10 patrimonial breeds under the microscope

The genetic characterisation of these ten breeds demonstrated marked differences between them, but a certain genetic structuring within breeds. Analysis of the polymorphism of different genetic markers showed that the diversity of all domestic breeds was small when compared with the wild populations from which they originated.
Study of their production characteristics, by comparison with a control rabbit strain, demonstrated a marked variability in growth potential, carcass quality and meat quality. Reproductive performance was poor in almost all breeds.
Some breeds exhibited original traits which could be of economic interest, notably with respect to growth and body composition.
A databank was built up, comprising the historical, demographic, morphological and production characteristics of each breed. These data, which are regularly updated, are now available to rabbit breeders and can be consulted over the internet3.



Conservation of pure breeds

wlapin.jpg
© INRA / J. Weber
 Réf. : PCD0015-IMG0022.PCD

Flemish Giant rabbit, a patrimonial breed

The final stage of this work consisted in constituting a cryobank which would first of all enable the conservation of well-characterised animals: 1500 embryos and semen from 8 breeds have already been placed in storage.
Secondly, this cryobank will be able to collect semen and embryos from breeds which are threatened with extinction.
This study provides new knowledge concerning domestic rabbit breeds and should enable the development of their role in the creation of breeding strains.





 

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The story of a White New Zealand rabbit born in California, which became the first rabbit bred in France
The creation of this strain of breeding rabbits goes back to the end of the 1960s. Researchers at the Jouy-en-Josas Research Centre were comparing several productive breeds, available in France. They chose a strain of New Zealand rabbits which were better suited to commercial breeding conditions. The INRA researchers imported this strain from a farm in California.
Breeding started in 1975, with the initiation of a mating plan in reproductive groups, so as to restrict any increase in consanguinity. Distribution started as early as 1976. This breed is used for crossing by rabbit breeders to produce meat. Thanks to the dynamism of industrial partners, this breed had become the most widely used in France and Europe by the end of the 1980s. It is also the reference breed for studies on rabbits at INRA.
After about thirty generations to improve prolificacy, rabbit breeding has now turned towards more complex objectives which include the individual weight at weaning as an indicator of the mothering qualities of females. Perinatal mortality, female fertility and disease resistance also constitute major challenges for the future. The gene map of the rabbit, which is currently being developed, will be the preferred tool to study the genetic variability of these traits.

Scientific contact:
H. de ROCHAMBEAU, Tel: 05 61 28 51 88 e-mail: rochambeau@germinal.toulouse.inra.fr
or Hervé GARREAU, Tel: 05 61 28 54 40 e-mail:
garreau@toulouse.inra.fr
Animal Breeding Unit, Animal Genetics Department,
François TUDELA Tel: 05 61 28 51 76 e-mail:
tudela@germinal.toulouse.inra.fr
Experimental Unit for Rabbits, Ducks and Geese,

Animal Genetics Department, Toulouse Research Centre

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1 programme coordinated by INRA and funded by the European Union, involving research teams from eight countries (France, Italy, Germany, United Kingdom, Spain, Belgium, Portugal, Austria)

 

Written by :  INRA press service, phone: +33 (0)1 42 75 91 69

Contacts : 
Gérard BOLET
Tel: 05 61 28 51 68
bolet@toulouse.inra.fr
Animal Breeding Unit, Animal Genetics Department, Toulouse Research Centre.

3 on the Website of the Bureau de Ressources Génétiques (http://www.brg.prd.fr) and that of the FEZ (Fédération Européenne de Zootechnie)
(
http://www.tiho-hannover.de/einricht/zucht/eaap/index.htm)

  
نویسنده : رأفت ; ساعت ٦:۳٩ ‎ب.ظ روز ٢۳ اسفند ۱۳۸٥
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