The Australian Alpaca industry is growing and the suri alpaca fleece is in high demand compared to huacaya fleece. By using genetic and protein approaches we investigated the alpaca genome to determine the order of alpaca’s scaffolds and to narrow down the regions containing the genes responsible for the suri trait.
Genetic markers were used to map the six scaffolds in the region identified as containing the genes causing the suri trait. The locations of the causative mutations were narrowed to two regions- one on scaffold B (keratin region) at position 11,834 and one on scaffold A at position 2, 734, 593. Our analyses therefore suggest that two genomic regions are associated with the fleece variation in alpaca. Consequently, our results do not support to previous generally accepted single-locus genetic model where the suri trait has been proposed to be dominant but Presciuttini et al. (2010) who concluded that a two-locus gene model explains the genetic underpinnings of the suri fleece. To further investigate the regions, a protein approach was used to identify the difference between suri and huacaya fibre protein. Two keratin protein candidates were identified that showed high association with the suri trait. They were both located in the causative mutation region on scaffold B close to marker 11,834 confirming that the causative mutation of suri trait is located in the scaffold B region. Apart from being important for the alpaca industry, our results also contribute to deciphering the genetics of fleece phenotypes in other commercially important species.