Genetic Markers for Fibre Pigmentation in Animals

Ref: 10614
A technology to use genetic markers to identify animals susceptible to producing dark hair or wool fibres. The technology is particularly suited to sheep.

Key advantages
  • Developing superior blood lines without black wool fibres
  • Accurate assessment of susceptibility to black spotting
  • Currently no genetic test capable of detecting pigmentation susceptibility


The presence of pigmented wool fibres grown in white wool fleece for use in the garment industry presents a serious quality assurance problem in wool production and processing.

Whilst sheep may show no visible signs of dark fibres, small traces may still be present. Current tests rely on visual sampling of bales of wool, where even small traces of coloured fibres can considerably devalue the entire bale.

By using a genetic test to determine the absence of the pigmentation genes, flocks can be managed to produce higher quality wool, with resultant higher value.

The invention

A single genetic test can be carried out on an animal to determine if it carries a particular bio-marker that has been demonstrated to be involved in the production of pigmented fibres.

The invention has particular applications in the wool (sheep) industry, as well as being applicable to other specialised fibre producing livestock such as alpacas, llamas, and goats.

The ability to classify livestock as being free from the gene would enhance the value of breeding stock, as well as allow for breeding programs with animals found to be free of the trait.


Assisting in breeding programs; Early detection of unfavourable characteristics in young animals; The ability to “certify” livestock and products.

Principal inventors

  • Professor Herman Raadsma