Life Science, Natural Selection & Evolution, Non-NGSS Articles, NSE 1: Evolution Evidence (HS), NSE 2: Evolution Factors (HS), NSE 5: Population Flux (HS)

Genetic Diversity in Laboratory Rodent Colonies

Inbred or Outbred? Genetic Diversity in Laboratory Rodent Colonies

SUMMARY: This study looked at genetic diversity in lab gerbils. Due to the fact that labs are small, animal groups tend to become less diverse overtime; however, the overall diversity of the gerbils can be determined if you outbreed them. The significance of inbred or outbred mice in genetic research is that there are advantages to both strains, depending on what your experiment is. Using a homogeneous group of inbred mice, you can knock out a certain gene to see exactly what effect it has on the phenotype. But genetics are much more complicated than one gene-one phenotype, therefore, using “wild-type” or genetically diverse animals can show how the whole genome reacts. Depending on the strain of gerbil that a lab is using, the diversity can create different outcomes.

LESSON COMMENTS: Evolutionary biology units will find this article very useful as it includes many of the must-know terms: bottleneck, founder effect, genetic drift, variation. This article demonstrates how evolution is evident today and is a good pairing for teachers using the antibiotic resistant example of evolution. This is also a good example of how scientific experiments are not always ideal and the natural evolution of housing and breeding a small group of rodents can, in the long run, change genetic experiment results.

Brekke, T. D., Steele, K. A., & Mulley, J. F. (2017). Inbred or Outbred? Genetic Diversity in Laboratory Rodent Colonies. G3 (Bethesda, Md.), 8(2), 679-686. doi:10.1534/g3.117.300495