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Gene designations

chlamy at ACPUB.DUKE.EDU chlamy at ACPUB.DUKE.EDU
Thu May 26 17:01:38 EST 1994

Peter Luykx makes some good arguments for using lower-case letters to
designate loci.  I'd like to comment specifically on one item in his post:

>   2. "Wild-type" does not have a universal meaning.  If and when people get
>around to doing real population genetics on Chlamy isolated from natural
>sources, it will be found that there is often more than one allele that could
>be called "wild-type."  (This is what in fact has been found for virtually
>every plant, animal, and bacterial species that have been studied genetically
>at the population level so far.)

The acedb structure that I'm using for the database allows designation of a
"reference_allele" and a "germplasm" containing that allele.  For the old
faithful mutants this will be wild-type 137C in most cases, often with a
specific strain indicated, e.g. CC-125.  However, there will be no problem
in designating a different natural strain as the reference allele, or in
having equivalent alleles at a locus, none of which is really "mutant". 
People working with databases for crop plants like maize or soybean face
this situation all the time, particularly with respect to molecular

Personally I'm willing to adopt a capital-letter convention if most of the
Chlamy community desires it (i.e. I agreed to Susan's proposal in a
pre-conference at the Tahoe meeting, and won't oppose it vigorously now),
but I would actually prefer to keep everything in lower case, for many of
the reasons Peter mentions.

Elizabeth Harris
chlamy at acpub.duke.edu

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