Goals

Through playing the game and matching phenotypes w/ genotypes as well as determining what can be produced given a specific phenotype, players will:

Learn basic principles of genetics:

Familiarity with genotype notations.

With more and more organisms whose genomes are becoming known, adopting standards for gene nomenclature is essential. While there is some variation in how genotypes are represented, there are many common features, and the symbols used for color genetics share many features, regardless of the species. Many species have carefully written standards describing how genes should be named such as the human genome or those for mice and rats (who are of course used extensively in research). Typically, the dominant allele is written as one or more upper-case letters (‘C’). Recessives are typically written in lowercase (‘c’), and all the alleles for one series typically start with the same letter (or letters).

In rabbits multiple alleles of the same gene are usually distinguished from each other using superscripts (‘cchd‘) but in cases where this is not possible, they are written this way:  cchd, or this way: c(chd). While this may seem complex, it is part of the “language” of genetics and so practice reading and using it is advantageous.

Terminology

Terms such as: homozygous, heterozygous, gene, allele, locus, genotype, phenotype, dominant, recessive are all part of the field of study and as with the notation, the more they are used in context, the easier they will be to remember.

Gene pairs code for specific traits

This is a fundamental notion in Mendelian Genetics and it should be understood at a fairly intuitive level. In order to find legal families in this game, it is necessary to look at the specific traits separately as well as in combination with others.

Separate alleles on different loci can interact

This is also a fundamental notion in Mendelian Genetics and the example of rabbit coat colors highlights this in a very visual way.

Genes combine to produce more complex effects

See above.

Phenotype vs. genotype

The notion that genotype and phenotype are related but still distinct is a difficult concept for many people to get their heads around. Through the repetition of the game, players can see many examples of identical phenotypes that have different outcomes when the corresponding genotypes are examined.

Homo- vs heterozygous effects

The novice and regular games do not include examples that highlight this idea, but the expansion pack will include the E-Series of alleles, and this does include visual examples of differences in the phenotypes that are a result of heterozygous expression of genes.