Thursday, March 29, 2018
Diversity and DNA part 2
Hi guys - Dobs4ever here back at the keyboard to talk a little more about the Doberman Diversity Project that I spoke about last week. While it is in its infancy and there is still a lot to learn about how this will all play out it does do some very important things. First it can save you money from having to do individual test for the Vwd, PDK4, Degenerative Myelopathy, coat color etc. They are the first lab I am aware of that has tried to save us money for all the numerous test that we like to do by reaching out to other labs and sharing the info they have as well as work with OFA for inclusion in their database. They hope to add more as more labs cooperate and share info.
I may have mentioned that they also test for 163 other diseases that are shared among different breeds. This may be the first giant step to unraveling the total DNA code. I firmly believe it will help us locate areas that might have stayed hidden for a much longer period.
So what do we know about diversity? It means difference, unlikeness, variety etc. For years as breeders, we have looked to improve on certain things mostly that we can actually see and touch. This is called the phenotype. We wanted to double up on the good genes that create beautiful conformation - correct tail set, head planes, proper alignment of the mouth and teeth, level top line, nice forechest, tight cat like feet, nicely arched neck - along with strong temperament, agile, fearless, alert, energetic, loyal all which are more abstract. It is how we have judged our dogs and our breedings from the beginning because it was all we had.
We know that too much tight inbreeding takes us down a very negative path so that tells us that diversity is important - but how much is too much or how much is not enough???
We always hope to breed a dog who only gets the best for both parents while missing the not so good. Sadly it does not work that way. With every good there is a little bad thrown in. With a strong crystal ball all of this can be corrected. I just have not found the crystal ball yet but I do believe that the diversity study could lead us down that path in the future.
We know from studies in the wild that diversity is key to the survival of a species, but we are just beginning to unlock the genetic code and how to identify it. It is so exciting and so frustrating all at the same time. I am a layman so I will share with you my perceptions as a breeder of going on 30 years and my limited understanding of this new scientific discovery.
I guess it starts with the discovery of DNA in the late 80's and that folks is the late 1800's. It was 84 years later or 1950's when it was first recognized as genetic material and it was the late 80's and early 90's that it became valuable in individual identification and used by criminalist to catch criminals.
In all that time we have actually identified very few of the strains of DNA and what they actually are related to. It's most valuable in the Diversity project as they follow the DNA strain in search of decoding the secret to each specific disease and hopefully it's elimination at least in the animal population. It scares me to think of how it might be used for future in human selection and that is all I will say about that.
It's an old study with new twist and turns as we advance down the genetic hole!!! I am excited that with today's scientific advances the trip will be much faster than the past century!!