A Practical approach for designing breeding groups to maximize genetic diversity in a large colony of captive rhesus macaques (macaca mulatta)

Amanda Vinson, Michael J. Raboin

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    3 Scopus citations


    Limited guidance is available on practical approaches for maintaining genetic diversity in large NHP colonies that support biomedical research, despite the fact that reduced diversity in these colonies is likely to compromise the application of findings in NHP to human disease. In particular, constraints related to simultaneously housing, breeding, and providing ongoing veterinary care for thousands of animals with a highly complex social structure creates unique challenges for genetic management in these colonies. Because the composition of new breeding groups is a critical component of genetic management, here we outline a 3-stage protocol for forming new breeding groups of NHP that is aimed at maximizing genetic diversity in the face of frequent restrictions on age, sex, and numbers of animals per breeding group. As an example application of this protocol, we describe optimal combinations of rhesus macaques from an analysis of candidate animals available for breeding in July 2013, selected from among the approximately 4000 macaques maintained at the Oregon National Primate Research Center. In addition, a simulation study to explore the genetic diversity in breeding groups formed by using this protocol, indicated an approximate 10-fold higher genome uniqueness, 50% lower mean kinship, and an 84-fold lower mean inbreeding coefficient among potential offspring within groups, when compared with a suboptimal group design. We conclude that this protocol provides a practical and effective approach to breeding group design for colony managers who want to prevent the loss of genetic diversity in large, semiisolated NHP colonies.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)700-707
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science
    Issue number6
    StatePublished - Nov 1 2015


    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Animal Science and Zoology

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