Guinea Pig Inbred Strains Of

Ethan M Shevach, Laboratory of Immunology, National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

The most widely used inbred strains of guinea pig in immunologic studies are the strain 2 and strain 13 animals which have been maintained for many years at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, USA. These two strains originated from a colony maintained by the Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC. In 1896, this colony was moved to Bethesda, a distance of 11 miles. However, during the course of the move, the covered wagons containing the guinea pigs encountered a severe rainstorm. Following an outbreak of pneumonia, only 54 animals from the original colony of 800-990 animals survived. In 1906, a series of experiments to study the effects of inbreeding were started and 24 inbred families were established. Family 2 and family 13 originated from distinct males. In the 1920s, a crisis in funding led to the elimination of most of the inbred families, but families 2 and 13 were preserved because they were the most vigorous. These two strains of animals were used by Sewall Wright in studies of the population genetics of special traits including spotting, digit number, otocephaly, sizes and shapes of internal organs, and resistance to tuberculosis.

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