Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring is Everywhere! Baby Bunnies are Here

To continue my nature observations from previous posts, spring is all around us! I am extremely pleased to see signs of life continuing to pop up everywhere. In particular, I have been observing daffodils this week. Daffodils are a beautiful yellow flower, and I have not yet seen one fully in bloom. My garden will soon be full of them! 

In addition, the hudson highlands nature museum has recently acquired four new additions to the animal family at the wildlife center. Four new baby bunnies were recently born, and this past week I had a chance to play with them. The mother is white with blue eyes, while the father is brown with brown eyes. The baby bunnies are: (2) brown with brown eyes, (1) white with black spots with with blue eyes, and (1) black with blue eyes. It made me think- how do we have such color variations from two parents who are just white and brown? Then, it made me recall something I learned in my genetics class- epistasis.  Epistasis is the phenomenon where the effects of one gene are modified by one or several other genes, which are sometimes called modifier genes. The gene whose phenotype is expressed is called epistatic, while the phenotype altered or suppressed is called hypostatic. The genes of an individual do not operate isolated from one another, but obviously are functioning in a common cellular environment. Therefore, this concept can explain why the different coat colors are seen in the offspring of the baby bunnies. Some genes when together can mask the production of another color, or be recessive to the expression of a different color. Therefore, sometimes new colors are also seen that were not seen in the parents. 

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