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BEGINNER GUIDE TO GENETICS, MUTATIONS

AND COMBINATIONS IN THE CANARY BREEDING

The totality of the genes is the genetic material of an organism. This genetic material is located in the nucleus of every single cell from which there is a organism being. The genetic material is contained in a “bundle” in the cell nuclei. This “bundle” are the chromosomes. The chromosomes come in pairs. The number, size and shape of the chromosomes are different for every organism. Under the microscope, you can see the different length and the patterns of the chromosomes. For instance, humans have 46 chromosomes ( = 23 pairs), dogs and chicken have 78 chromosomes (=39 pairs), fruit flies have only 4 chromosomes (=2 pairs) and the canaries have 84 chromosomes ( = 42 pairs). 41 chromosome pairs in canaries are autosom chromosomes while the final pair of chromosomes  are the sex chromosomes. The sex chromosomes determine whether the canary is a male or a female. In every kind of bird the males have two X chromosomes while females have one X and one Y. The chromosomes carry genetic codes that effects everything about the canary including song, different colours, the size and also the shapes and many thing more, which are features or characteristics that are passed or inherited to the offsprings from the parents. What is a Mutation? Most birds in the nature look alike within species. So it is also with the Serinus c. canaria, the anchestor of the all “our” canary birds (Serinus canaria domestica), whose colour is green. A mutation is a natural variation or a variant of the wild form and are not man-made because every bird carries the genes for a mutation in their own body. We often heard about color deviations as albinism of animals in the nature. This are also mutations, but mutations in the nature are not preserved by itself and often disappear again. Natural variation or variants are a naturally occurring phenomenon and can only exist in numbers if they are well established. Most mutations are recessive or sex-linked and are controlled by dominant genes. that is the reason why mutations disappear in the nature. In the captivity breeding it is possible that the bird breeders only with a lot of patience recognize a natural colour variant (mutation) and preserved it by inbreeding or linebreeding. This helps to isolate the gene and can also help to figure out how the gene is transferred (recessive, dominant, autosomal or sex-linked etc.).

By understanding the genetic inheritance in canaries we can have a logical strategy for creating

with much patience and skilfulness our own canary, which is also called targeted canarybreeding.

What is a combination and how do we get so many different colours in canaries? Not every colour in canaries is a single mutation. We can combine many mutations with each other, also called combinations. Especially in the canary breeding we can see a wide range of special colours and types and also the songs, because during the last centuries a lot of mutations are preserved and combined.
Fundamentals of Color Genetics in Canaries: Reproduction and Control
Colored, Type & Song Canaries
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