Any same-gene but different morphs out there?

So I’m a geneticist just getting into keeping ball pythons (picking up my first fellow next weekend!), and I’m wondering if any of the morph lineages are actually mutations in the same gene?

It would be fairly easy to tell if this is so. Basically, breeding two snakes, each homozygous for a different morph, which would normally result in double-het offspring, instead produces offspring with a visible morph.

Is there anyone in the community trying to narrow this down at all? I personally think it would be a fascinating project, but considering my current life stage, wouldn’t be something I can do for at least a few more years.

1 Like

Hi, good to meet a geneticist in the hobby! I’m a zoology student aspiring to become a geneticist in the long run =]

I’m not entirely sure on what you’ve asked here, but I know that there are several groups of morphs that are allelic (or compound heterozygous) - for example the yellowbelly complex. A yellowbelly spectre (a superstripe) will give you only yellowbelly or spectre offspring, no normals. But a homozygous yellowbelly or homozygous spectre is not a superstripe - homozygous yellowbelly is ivory, not sure what a homozygous spectre gives you. Hope this was at least interesting, if not helpful, lol.

Welcome @astrala, it’s great to have folks with formal training among us.

@owalreptiles has done a lot of work to document genes which are allelic or in the same complex. In the FAQ section he mentions some names for genes which are probably just the same.

I’m sure he’ll have more thoughts on your specific question.

Yeah, that’s a good example, thanks.

1 Like

Oh cool, I’ll have to take a look through that. Although, given the fact that so many ball python mutations are dominant (an artifact of the manner in which most are discovered), it raises the question whether mutations that appear allelic may simply be co-dominant but not allelic.

1 Like

Vanilla Cream/Sulfur Cream (Fire Vanilla) present the same genetic results as the example above. You’ll have either fire or vanilla offspring but never both and never normals.

Banana and Coral Glow are a better example of what i believe you were asking. Slightly different expression but completely compatible. ‘Discovered’ by different people at different times, but it’s the same gene. Butter/Lesser is another example. There are many others.

With ‘Fire’ there are several genes that have visibly different expressions but are generally considered to be within the same complex since they’ll produce a black eyed leucistics when paired back to a fire. For example my Sulfurs don’t look at all like my Fire’s but they both produce super fires paired to each other or themselves. The color and pattern expression of the super fires they produce varies however.

To date there are no mutations in any reptile that have proven to be co-dominant. The term, as used in the hobby, is an artifact of old time “big breeders” who had/have limited understanding of genetics and started incorrectly using it to describe what they were seeing. All of these “co-dom” genes are actually incomplete-dominant.

1 Like

Yeah… I’ve already noticed the use of co-dominant in the community >_< Drives me a little batty, haha.

1 Like

We only corrected the market site back in 2018. We wrote up this little article with the help of @owalreptiles to raise the issue.