Genetic testing to optimize breeding programs

jcase

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I know with some species, like the indigo snake, genetic testing is done to optimize breeding programs. Are there any companies or organisations that offer or have done this for tortoises?
 

turtlesteve

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Yes, I am told this can be done for tortoises but it’s still fairly expensive. And, I am not sure what reference data exists either (to be able to identify specific locales etc.)
 

jcase

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Yes, I am told this can be done for tortoises but it’s still fairly expensive. And, I am not sure what reference data exists either (to be able to identify specific locales etc.)
I've heard of it being done as well, just not sure what labs do it. I know it is expensive, but so we're the animals, and I could be doing worse, could have gone with supercars as a hobby lol.
 

turtlesteve

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It’s a European company called Gendika. I know they have done work on Testudo before. Usefulness of testing will depend on them having baseline data for the species of interest to compare to.
 

Markw84

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I've heard of it being done as well, just not sure what labs do it. I know it is expensive, but so we're the animals, and I could be doing worse, could have gone with supercars as a hobby lol.
We do have all our Galapagos tested. I just drew blood from my one and two year olds two weeks ago. We batch a very large group of samples together to make it worth the time for the lab.

The issue, as @turtlesteve mentions, is that a comprehensive database of microsatellites for the Genus/species you wish to test must be available against which the samples can be compared. Nuclear markers can then be compared to identify both maternal and paternal parents. This is available for Galapagos. I do not know that a good databse exits for other Genus/species. Perhaps Gendika has others available?? They do not do our Galapagos.
 

Markw84

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Are you aware of anyone doing this for platynota?
I am not. That is why I carefully mark and track each platynota I produce along with Dam and Sire info. Keeping track of which tortoise is which is vital. Studbooks were/are used for this and there is a studbook for platynota. However, it was deemed unnecessary to track private breeders they refuse to give studbook numbers to privately produced platynota. Totally defeats the main purpose of a studbook!!
 

zovick

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We do have all our Galapagos tested. I just drew blood from my one and two year olds two weeks ago. We batch a very large group of samples together to make it worth the time for the lab.

The issue, as @turtlesteve mentions, is that a comprehensive database of microsatellites for the Genus/species you wish to test must be available against which the samples can be compared. Nuclear markers can then be compared to identify both maternal and paternal parents. This is available for Galapagos. I do not know that a good databse exits for other Genus/species. Perhaps Gendika has others available?? They do not do our Galapagos.
Who is doing the work on the Galapagos Tortoises? Is it still being done by Ed Louis at the University of Nebraska/Omaha Zoo?

I know Ed tested many tortoises for me over the years and he had a pretty good database of samples from many species around the world. He has tested 6 or 7 locales of Western Hermann's Tortoises for me in addition to all three types of Star Tortoises, plus Travancore, Elongated, and Forsten's Tortoises.

Unfortunately, I believe he is not doing this for private persons and is sort of retired as of now.

There was another lab which the Bronx Zoo used to use. I believe George Zug had something to do with that one, but am not sure of the name of the facility.
 

jcase

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I am not. That is why I carefully mark and track each platynota I produce along with Dam and Sire info. Keeping track of which tortoise is which is vital. Studbooks were/are used for this and there is a studbook for platynota. However, it was deemed unnecessary to track private breeders they refuse to give studbook numbers to privately produced platynota. Totally defeats the main purpose of a studbook!!
Those is exactly my interest, add to not letting private individuals in, there are also quite a few unknown/untracked lines. a portion of my group I couldn't even find out who produced the parents. If it was remotely affordable, it would be be possible to build a public studbook of some sorts.
 

Markw84

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Who is doing the work on the Galapagos Tortoises? Is it still being done by Ed Louis at the University of Nebraska/Omaha Zoo?

I know Ed tested many tortoises for me over the years and he had a pretty good database of samples from many species around the world. He has tested 6 or 7 locales of Western Hermann's Tortoises for me in addition to all three types of Star Tortoises, plus Travancore, Elongated, and Forsten's Tortoises.

Unfortunately, I believe he is not doing this for private persons and is sort of retired as of now.

There was another lab which the Bronx Zoo used to use. I believe George Zug had something to do with that one, but am not sure of the name of the facility.
He is "sort of" retired. But still does testing with his lab for us.
 

Markw84

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Those is exactly my interest, add to not letting private individuals in, there are also quite a few unknown/untracked lines. a portion of my group I couldn't even find out who produced the parents. If it was remotely affordable, it would be be possible to build a public studbook of some sorts.
Exactly. I have for exactly that reason built and am maintaining a complete studbook for Galapagos.
 

Markw84

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If you ever ha e interest in doing the same with Burmese stars let me know
It is a LOT of work. Getting reliable info is the hardest part. With Galapagos it is still a realatively select group of individuals in addition to the AZA members that have Galaps. Maybe a dozen locations producing babies. So at least marginally manageable. And with bloodwork available to us, I have pieced things together for probabaly 90%+ of all the Galapagos tortoise in existance outside of the Galapagos Islands.
 

jcase

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It is a LOT of work. Getting reliable info is the hardest part. With Galapagos it is still a realatively select group of individuals in addition to the AZA members that have Galaps. Maybe a dozen locations producing babies. So at least marginally manageable. And with bloodwork available to us, I have pieced things together for probabaly 90%+ of all the Galapagos tortoise in existance outside of the Galapagos Islands.
Reliable info on platynota is going to be near impossible, considering how many of the founders arrived state side

One of my goals is to build out a highly genetically diverse group, after I get my building constructed I plan on adding more.
 

zovick

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I am not. That is why I carefully mark and track each platynota I produce along with Dam and Sire info. Keeping track of which tortoise is which is vital. Studbooks were/are used for this and there is a studbook for platynota. However, it was deemed unnecessary to track private breeders they refuse to give studbook numbers to privately produced platynota. Totally defeats the main purpose of a studbook!!
The AZA studbooks for various SSP's (Species Survival Plans) which are run by AZA member institutions only accepted info from private owners until there were enough animals owned by zoos to make the privately owned animals "surplus" to the needs of the SSP programs. After that, it became a pain for the studbook keepers to deal with private owners, so they gradually just quit doing it.

In 2004.the AZA just about forbade its member institutions to deal with private people which was really the beginning of the end for cooperation from the AZA in trying to register private animals in their studbooks.

This has happened with the studbooks for Burmese Stars, Indian Stars, Spider Tortoises, Ploughshare Tortoises, and Radiated Tortoises. It is particularly saddening to me as I have a great many animals in all of the above studbooks and now I can hardly even get a studbook keeper to talk to me any longer.

I toyed with the idea of starting a private studbook for Radiated Tortoises for a couple of years, but didn't get much support from the other private owners so abandoned it.
 

jcase

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The AZA studbooks for various SSP's (Species Survival Plans) which are run by AZA member institutions only accepted info from private owners until there were enough animals owned by zoos to make the privately owned animals "surplus" to the needs of the SSP programs. After that, it became a pain for the studbook keepers to deal with private owners, so they gradually just quit doing it.

In 2004.the AZA just about forbade its member institutions to deal with private people which was really the beginning of the end for cooperation from the AZA in trying to register private animals.

This has happened with the studbooks for Burmese Stars, Indian Stars, Spider Tortoises, Ploughshare Tortoises, and Radiated Tortoises. It is particularly saddening to me as I have a great many animals in all of the above studbooks and now I can hardly even get a studbook keeper to talk to me any longer.

I toyed with the idea of starting a private studbook for Radiated Tortoises for a couple of years, but didn't get much support from the other private owners so abandoned it.
Major shame, considering the genetic diversity in private hands. AZA used to allow private members, at least I recall it as a kid. Then again many zoos used to rather nasty, and didn't give a care about where animals came from.
 
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