Why do cats have stripes and spots?

January 14th, 2010 - 2:10 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Jan 14 (IANS) Scientists have found at least three different genes responsible for stripes and spots on domestic cats, a finding that opens the door to future research impacting human skin disorders.
Researchers have also determined the location of two of these genes, which will enable further studies that could shine light on various human skin disorders.

“We hope that the study opens up the possibility of directly investigating the genes involved in pattern formation (establishment of stripes, spots, and other markings) on the skin of mammals,” said Eduardo Eizirik, researcher from Pontifical Catholic University, Brazil.

“We hope to understand how the different coat patterns have evolved in different mammalian groups and to be able to investigate their roles in adaptation to different environments, such as their importance for camouflage in wild cat species,” he added.

Scientists crossed domestic cats with different coat patterns, such as stripes and blotches, and tracked the inheritance of these patterns among their offspring. Genetic samples were collected and used to type various molecular markers, says a varsity release.

These results were published in the January issue of GENETICS.

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