Students explore advanced genetics with this rabbit coloration worksheet.
Rabbit coat color genetics are controlled by several genes that interact to determine the color, pattern, and density of the rabbit’s coat. The main genes involved in rabbit coat color genetics are labeled A, B, C, D, and E
A = Agouti B = Black / Chocolate C= Color
D = Dilution E = Extension
Rabbits have a variety of colors that cannot be easily interpreted with simple genetics and Punnett squares. Any of the genes listed can interact to form unique patterns in the rabbits.
Oregon State University has an entire series devoted to explaining the genetics of rabbits. For the purpose of a basic biology class in high school, I made a worksheet that focuses on the multiple alleles that control 4 coat colors: black/brown, gray (chinchilla), Himalayan, and albino.
Students will examine the genotypes of rabbits, which uses superscripts to denote each color variation. This is new to most beginning students who are only familiar with the double letter format of Mendelian genetics (Aa x Aa).
As students progress through the worksheet, the examples and problems become more difficult. I tell students that one of the most challenging thing is to keep track of all the superscript letters. Good penmanship is a plus!
My honors students managed this worksheet, but I also introduce them to a simpler format when studying blood types. Some students actually enjoy the challenge!