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Keywords:

  • chimpanzee;
  • blood groups;
  • genetic markers

Abstract

Severe restrictions on the importation of chimpanzees emphasize the importance and urgency of domestic breeding as a sole means to assure an uninterrupted supply of animals for medical research. An insight into the genetic structure of the self-sustained captive population of animals is indispensable to prevent the effects of inbreeding and to preserve the animals' reproductive capacity. This can be achieved by study of sets of genetic markers in the form of heritable molecular or antigenic variations detectable by relatively simple methods. Among chimpanzee blood components so far identified as possible genetic markers, red cell antigens appear to be the most useful and most readily available. The amount of information concerning blood groups of chimpanzees, their serology and genetics, number of polymorphic types, etc, surpasses data on other heritable traits in this species. A concise review of the present status of knowledge of chimpanzee blood groups and, particularly, of serology and genetics of two complex blood group systems, V-A-B-D and R-C-E-F, is given together with a few examples of their application in cases of disputed parentage. Finally, a list of practical steps is suggested dealing with introduction and use of genetic markers as elements of the national chimpanzee breeding program.