Open Access

Genetic variability of the pattern of night melatonin blood levels in relation to coat changes development in rabbits

  • Daniel Allain1Email author,
  • Benoit Malpaux2,
  • François Puechal1,
  • René Gérard Thébault3,
  • Hubert de Rochambeau1 and
  • Philippe Chemineau2
Genetics Selection Evolution200436:207

Received: 6 June 2002

Accepted: 25 September 2003

Published: 15 March 2004


To assess the genetic variability in both the nocturnal increase pattern of melatonin concentration and photoresponsiveness in coat changes, an experiment on 422 Rex rabbits (from 23 males) raised under a constant light programme from birth was performed. The animals were sampled at 12 weeks of age, according to 4 periods over a year. Blood samples were taken 7 times during the dark phase and up to 1 h after the lighting began. Maturity of the fur was assessed at pelting. Heritability estimates of blood melatonin concentration (0.42, 0.17 and 0.11 at mid-night, 13 and 15 h after lights-out respectively) and strong genetic correlations between fur maturity and melatonin levels at the end of the dark phase (-0.64) indicates that (i) the variability of the nocturnal pattern of melatonin levels is under genetic control and (ii) the duration of the nocturnal melatonin increase is a genetic component of photoresponsiveness in coat changes.


rabbitcoat developmentmelatonin secretiongenetic variability

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Authors’ Affiliations

Station d'amélioration génétique des animaux, Institut national de la recherche agronomique
Physiologie de la reproduction et des comportements, neuroendocrinologie, Institut national de la recherche agronomique
Génétique animale phanères, Le Magneraud, Institut national de la recherche agronomique


© INRA, EDP Sciences 2004