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When In Rome

Back To "Ask The Biologist?"If you try to manage deer on a lease, sooner or later you’ll run across a slightly abnormal whitetail. What should you do?

QUESTION: Is a short bridgeline a recessive genetic defect, and should a buck with this trait be allowed to breed? — Ron Dahlseid

When In Rome

ANSWER: Indeed, a short, bowed or Roman nose is usually the result of a recessive genetic trait. In fact, this phenomenon is not uncommon in piebald deer, which is also a genetic trait.

Whether a deer exhibiting this characteristic should be allowed to breed is a judgement call. Recessive traits are rare and usually masked by dominant genes.

You might recall the classic example of eye color from high school genetics. Humans have two alleles for eye color. B is brown and b is blue. So a BB person has brown eyes and a bb person has blue eyes. Because brown is a dominant trait, a Bb person also has brown eyes.

The offspring of two parents inherit one allele from each parent. If both parents are bb, their children will have blue eyes. If parents are BB and bb, their offspring will always have brown eyes. If parents are Bb and bb, offspring could have brown (Bb) or blue (bb) eyes.

It’s usually not quite that simple with other traits since some characteristics might influence others. Unless you see this Roman nose trait turning up more often, I wouldn’t worry about it.

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