Studies on the polymorphism in potassium concentration of sheep red blood cell have been in progress in this Institute for the last ten years. Both high (HK) and low (LK) potassium types have been observed in the indigenous breeds although the HK’s predominate. The exotic breds (Soviet Merino, Rambomllet, German Merino, Polwarth, etc.) maintained in India are all LK’s. The physiological differences between these types and their genetic basis have been studied in depth and the work done so far has been reviewed recently (T aneja, 1970, 1973). In particular the results on the relationship of blood potassium concentration/ type with wool quality are of considerable interest. In their extensive review on the subject the Australian scientists have reported the confirmation of these findings (Agar, et al, 1973). There is a strong genetic correlation between potassium concentration and wool quality and quantity, as the selection practiced for and against various wool traits in Australian Merino also shifted the blood potassium concentration (E vans, et al., 1973). It is also established that the breeds with lower concentration of potassium in the red blood cell in the LK type have finner wools than those with higher concentration (Taneja et al., 1969; Evans et al., 1973). An inter-relationship exists between the frequency of gene for low potassium type (KL) and the quality of wool. The phenotypic correlations between potassium concentration and wool quality and quantity within breed vary considerably. Evans et al. (1973) did not observe any significant correlations between these traits whereas Taneja (unpublished) recorded complete absence of a correlation in some breeds and significant correlation in others.
Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume 3, Madrid, Spain, 301–303, 1974
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