Study of Hair Melanins in Various Hair Color Alpaca (Lama Pacos)

  • Fan, Ruiwen (College of Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine, Shanxi, Agricultural University) ;
  • Yang, Gang (College of Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine, Shanxi, Agricultural University) ;
  • Dong, Changsheng (College of Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine, Shanxi, Agricultural University)
  • Received : 2009.06.12
  • Accepted : 2009.10.26
  • Published : 2010.04.01


The aim of this study was to measure the hair melanins of various colors and to find the relationship between the quantity of melanins and hair color phenotypes in alpacas. According to the Munsell color system, 3 healthy alpacas were selected for each of the 22 different hair color phenotypes (66 alpacas altogether). Alpaca hair was taken from the lateral thoracic region and then dissolved with different solutions to obtain melanins. The values of alkali-soluble melanins (ASM), eumelanin (EM) and pheomelanin (PM) were measured by spectrophotometric assay, and labeled as Sp.ASM, Sp.EM and Sp.PM, respectively. Data were analyzed using SPSS11.5 software. Results showed that average Sp.ASM and Sp.PM were increased as the color deepened from white to black, ranging from 0.500 to 4.543 for Sp.ASM and from 0.268 to 1.457 for Sp.EM. However, average Sp.PM had no such apparent relationship with color. Based on the value of Sp.ASM and EM, 7 hues were produced and gray was a single hue. Most of the data were in a normal distribution (p>0.10). ANOVA analysis showed that mean values of Sp.ASM, Sp.EM and Sp.PM were significantly different (p<0.05). The results also showed that Sp.ASM was positively correlated with Sp.EM but the correlation between Sp.ASM and Sp.PM was not significantly different from 0. It is concluded that EM is the major constituent of alpaca hair melanin; there is a significant correlation among ASM, EM and alpaca hair colors, and EM is the most reliable parameter for distinguishing these groups.


Supported by : National Natural Science Foundation of China, Shanxi Province Science Foundation for Youths


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