By Dr. Jackie Atkins
Most of us have a good understanding of the two most common coat color alleles ~ the red and the black versions. Black is dominant to red so red cattle must have two red alleles and black cattle can either have two black alleles (homozygous) or can carry a red allele (heterozygous). Wild Type is a third option for the primary coat color gene (called the extension gene). The Wild Type allele is less common in our population of cattle and other genes can affect the coat color display. Because of its rarity and complexity with gene interactions, exactly how the Wild Type allele works is uncertain. Some report that the Wild Type allele is intermediate in dominance to the black and red alleles. Others report the wild type allele will be neutral to the red or the black alleles. This means, the coat color of a wild type carrier will be red if the second gene is red ~ or black if the second gene is black. A Simmental homozygous for the Wild Type allele will likely be brownish red or brownish black with darker areas around the muzzle, ear tufts, and tail switches.
To join in on the conversation or ask specific questions you may have about the wild type gene, visit the Science Forum, select DNA Testing, What is the Wild Type coat color allelle? If you haven’t checked out the Science Forum yet, hop on over and browse through it today. Here’s a list of the current DNA topics that have been posted so far.