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VII.  Guinea fowl genes and comments

As one might expect, there hasn't been much genetics research done on Guinea fowl. The bulk of what has been done was pioneered by the Spanish geneticist, Dr. A. Ghigi (important works published in 1924 and 1966), and, later by R. Somes, Jr. (mid- to late- 1980s). Just as in chickens, the Guinea fowl plumage colors and patterns are the result of the interaction of a number of genes. In the case of the Guinea, there are four basic and different loci (locations on chromosomes) where genes reside and determine the feather patterns. First I will give a list of the known plumage color genes of Guinea fowl followed by a table of genotypes correlated with phenotype descriptions.

The discussion of poultry genetics in these pages is relevant to the Guinea fowl except for when specific genes for other poultry are being considered (for example, the sex-linked traits function the same as they do in chickens). The most common wild Guinea fowl is the 'wild-type' and all genes that are different from the genes of the wild-type fowl are considered to be mutations. A superscript '+' indicates a gene possessed by the wild-type fowl. I have tried to incorporate relevant and interesting comments about these genes in the comment section. I continue to update this and correct it....


Guinea Fowl Genes of Common Interest
Sex-Linked Genes Symbol
Sex-linked feathering k Recessive. This gene influences the feathering rate, but, males more than females. Male feather development is significantly slowed compared to that of females (as measured at 4, 8 and 12 days after hatch).

Autosomal Genes
Autosomal Genes Symbol
Pied no symbol Recessive. Produces a typical pied spotting pattern. Splashes of white appear throughout the plumage. This gene can be combined with any of the other color patterns.
Royal purple m Recessive. This gene causes most of the white pearl markings of the wild-type to be absent from the otherwise wild-type phenotype. It supresses the expression of the pearl pattern in the wild-type.
Lavender or light grey i Recessive. Birds are clear slate-blue color uniformly speckled with white pearl markings.
Dundotte or buff dondotte d Recessive. Buff base color with white pearl markings covering the surface. The shade of buff-brown can vary from almost white to the color of Rhode Island Red chickens.
White W Incompletely dominant. Homozygotes are white while heterozygotes will have coloration in their back feathers.

In the table below, I have listed the gene combinations in the Guinea fowl that result in given plumage patterns as I did for chickens in Part II. It is important to remember that the wild-type gene that is present when a bird is lacking, say, the white gene, W, is the w+ gene. It is just the wild-type gene that occupies the same locus or location on the chromosome as the W gene does when it is present. So, for example, there is a corresponding wild-type gene for every gene listed in the table above. There is an M+ gene that corresponds to the m gene. When a bird has, say, the m gene, it will be lacking in pearl markings. When a bird does not have the m gene, it has the M+ gene instead and does have pearl markings. There is a corresponding wild-type gene for every gene in the above table. They are not listed because they are the reference...they define the wild-type.

Genotypes of Plumage Patterns in Guinea Fowl
Pattern description Genotype
Grey, pearl, pearl grey, speckled, wild-type M+ / M+ I+ / I+ D+/D+ w+ / w+ (all wild-type genes)
Violet, royal purple m /m I+ / I+ D+/D+ w+ / w+
Lilac, lavender, light grey M+ / M+ i / i D+/D+ w+ / w+
Sky blue, coral blue, blue coral m / m i/ i D+/D+ w+ / w+
Chamois, dundotte, buff dundotte M+ / M+ I+ / I+ d/d w+ / w+
Buff m/m I+ / I+ d/d w+ / w+
Porcelain m/m I+ / I+ d/d w+ / w+
Opaline m/m i/i d/d w+/w+
White anything with W/W
Splashed, white-breasted pearl M+ / M+ I+ / I+ D+/D+ W/ w+
Lakenpur, white-breasted purple m/m I+ / I+ D+/D+ W/ w+
Silverwing M+ / M+ i / i D+/D+ W/ w+
Coral white m/m i / i D+/D+ W/ w+
Dondotte white M+ / M+ I+ / I+ d/d W/ w+
Buff white m/m I+ / I+ d/d W/ w+
Porcelain white M+ / M+ i / i d/d W/ w+
Opal white m/m i / i d/d W/w+