Understanding Allelic Genes in Ball Pythons!

Guest Contributor: Warwick Von Hagen of Strictly Snakes / Edited by Justin Kobylka

Justin’s note: I’m pleased to offer a guest contributed piece here on BSJ. If you found it helpful and want to see more, comment below!

Those of you, who have recently discovered the fast growing world of Ball Pythons, have probably come across the concept of alleic genes. More than likely you are probably scratching your head and asking what ever could this be?

In this article we are going to refer to allelic genes as ALS or Acts Like Super. Lets first cover the basics of Genetics 101 before we get into understanding the ALS. I’m also including a list at the end of Ball Python mutations that fit into this unique concept.

We have to start with a basic genetics overview, let us looking at the breeding of the pastel gene (this gene is incomplete dominate. We refer to it incorrectly as “Codom” in the reptile community). Bear in mind that your actual results will vary per breeding:

 

1570_f-SupPastHCln_01.jpg

Super Pastel

Pastel X Normal will result in the following offspring
50% Pastel
50% Normal

 

Pastel X Pastel will result in the following offspring
25% Super Pastel

50% Pastel
25% Normal

Super Pastel X Normal will result in the following offspring
100% Pastel

Now we can move on to the next step. In this step we will cross 2 different mutations together. The breeding’s we will be looking at is the Pastel x Spider pairing:

 

1510_f-EnchiBBeeYB_01

Enchi Bumblebee YB

From the pairing mentioned above, the resulting offspring will be:
25% Bumble Bee
25% Pastel
25% Spider
25% Normal

 

Now, if we took that Bumble bee and bred it to a normal, we will hatch the following:
25% Bumble Bee
25% Pastel
25% Spider
25% Normal

As you can see, by breeding a Pastel x Spider OR breeding a Bumble bee x Normal, the exact same result ratios apply.

If you understand the basic genetic concepts above, let us looking at the ALS. The official name for ALS is in fact Compound Heterozygous. It refers to when two Alleles (alternate forms or varieties of a gene) meet at the same Locus (the location of allelic genes on the chromosome) creating a genetic mutation composed of two different genetic ingredients.

The slang term “Acts Like Super” was derived to define two distinct genes that pair at the same locus but have different but compatible alleles. The resulting combo generally has a dramatic visual expression. When bred to a normal all resulting babies are gene carriers of this combination. 50% of all offspring receiving a single copy of a gene. This combination cannot reproduce itself when bred to a normal since it occurs at the same locus and can only reproduce the “ingredients” in the parent animal.

HWPied_pair.jpg

Highway Piebalds – (Highway is an ALS combo)

Since this is a paired gene mutation you must understand the difference between an ALS and a standard double mutation. With a combo such as a Pastel x Spider (as discussed earlier) we are looking at two distinct Locus sites to define the presence of these genes. Pastel does NOT share the same Locus as Spider and we are seeing the overlapping of two expressed genes on the same snake. With ALS we are seeing two genes on the SAME locus and the resulting pair of genes makes the visual combo. This is basically the same type of behavior we see with “super form” genetics.

 

So, what does this mean with regards to breeding?? Well, let us look at a few pairings; the two “base ingredients” we will use is that of Yellow Belly and Spector.

Separately, the Yellow belly and Spector genes are visually different from each other and make different combos, but when combined together, the work as a Compound Heterozygous animal or ALS.

 

01.jpg

Super Stripe (Yellowbelly Specter)

So, let’s start by pairing Yellow belly x Spector, the resulting pairing will produce the following offspring:
25% Super Stripe (this is the animal you want to produce, this is the ALS animal)
25% Spector
25% Yellow Belly
25% Normal

 

But when breed a Super Stripe x Normal, no Superstripes AND no Normals are produced.
50% Yellow Belly
50% Spector

As with all the genetics, it can be hard to initially wrap your mind around these concepts. But as you start dealing with these unique genes more, it will become easier to understand.

Now that you’re an ALS gene superstar, let’s check out the list of commonly known allelic genes in Ball Pythons.

Incomplete Dominate ALS genes

PastHW.jpg

Pastel Highway

Yellow Belly Complex:
Spector
Spark
Gravel
Asphalt
Flare

 

 

13128_m-VanillaCream_01.jpg

Vanilla Cream (Vanilla Fire)

Fire Complex: (some of these genes may be the same, others have small to large variation)
Lucifer
Sulphur
Disco
Vanilla
Thunder
Coffee
Flame
Ember

 

 

05phantom_and_superphantom_jpg

Phantom / Super Phantom (img credit ukn)

Blue Eyed Leucistic Complex:
Lesser
Butter
Mojave
Moca
Phantom
Mystic
Russo het Leucistic
Special
Mota

 

 

IMG_8820

Blackhead Spider – this allelic combo nearly wipes out traces of both genes. photo: Michael Freedman

 


Cinny / Black Pastel Complex:

Black Pastel
Cinnamon
Lori
Het Red Axanthic
Brown Back
Green Pastel
Huffman

 

Blackhead & Spider are allelic. The combination of these two genes nearly wipes out visual traces of either of them. A very surprising result.

Recessive ALS Genes: These are visually different recessives, but when combined, they still create a homozygous animal.

 

IMG_8271

Albino & Candy Albino (aka Candino) photo: Matt Jablonski

Candy/Toffee Complex:
Candy
Toffee
Albino

 

6 thoughts on “Understanding Allelic Genes in Ball Pythons!

  1. Great post! I am not even a ball keeper, but I love all the genetics! One question on the blackhead spider. The ALS combo nearly wipes out the visual pattern modification, does it also eliminate the wobble from spider (in the combo, I am certain spiders produced from breeding a blackhead spider would have the wobble)?

    • Matt in honesty, I’m not 100% sure if the black head spider is void of the head wobble, as black head spiders are starting to become more prolific in collections, as more come into play we will know whether the wobble is present or not.

      • Matt, Warwick,

        The Blackhead/Spider heteroallelic combo does not display wobble. If you think broadly about the individual natures of these mutations it is understandable why this is the case. And yes Matt, you are correct that any Spiders produced from breeding a BH/Spider would still have neuro traits

        Cheers

  2. Hello Justin,
    thank you very much for your explanation. I think, that there is a lot of genetic,we do not understand at the moment. For example I have a Clown male, which produces with a Normal, a Normal het …. female or a single gene only females offsprings, but with a single gene het…… female or double and tripple gene female, males and females in a normal way.
    Another case is, an axanthic I have. This axanthic gives the axanthic gene codominant the 1 Generation to all males and recessive to all females. For example, I bread this axanthic to a Piebald and got 4 axanthics het Piebald males in the first Generation and the rest were all double het females. The same was with a Clown, I bread with her. Therefore I calles it RECO Axanthic for recessive/codominant. If you are interested in this cases or have some equal things, write me. Than I can send you some Pictures to underline my words. Excuse my bad english.
    Sincerly
    Hubert Engel
    Engel-Reptiles

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