Institute Cytology and Genetics

Laboratory of Genetics and Selection of Fur Animals

Head O.V.Trapezov, Ph.D.
trap@philosophy.nsc.ru (priv) , trapezov@bionet.nsc.ru (office)

Black crystal. Finished fur garment

Black crystal.

Using the experimental model of domestication of the river otter (Lutra lutra Linnaeus, 1758), the problem of the relation between two key problems of evolution, selection and variability under stress conditions, and their importance to selection, is studied at the Laboratory. It was shown that sharp changes in the environment, by provoking a stress state, release genetic variability hidden (latent) in animal population. This facilitates search and selection for animals that are more adaptive to extreme conditions. Four generations of river otter adapted to captive breeding were raised for 15 years.

New coat color mutations are very rare events in captive bred fur animals, moreover that radiation and chemical mutagenesis are inapplicable to fur bearing mammals. The need for novel color phases by the world market has not been consistently met by retention and breeding of the mostly recessive color novelties that appear by chance in captivity. Based on Belyaev's concept of destabilizing selection, aberrant forms of coat color were produced in mink. Genetic analysis demonstrated that some occurred for the first time and that they are inherited as autosomal incompletely dominant mutations. Six novel coat forms were derived from these novelties. A technology was developed for breeding the novelties for commercial purposes.

The Laboratory maintains a collection of recessive and dominant coat color genes in mink, obtained in the most favorable years of animal breeding in Russia.

River otter (wild type)

River otter (tame type)


Hedlund white

Roshchinskaya white and black

Swedish palomino, Swedish buff

Royal silver, Royal silvered, Chocker

Royal pastel, Pastel


Black cross, Black Snow, jebb

Karelskaya spotted

Heggedal, Shadow

Sapphire, Safir, Aleutiansilver

Finnish topaze, Soklotpastel

Mojlaleutian, Lavanda

Pearl, Ampalosafir

Black crystal

Platinum, Maltese, Silverblue