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The First Black 6: C57BL/6J

The black 6 mouse, above, was developed around 1920 by Clarence Cook Little (1881-1971), below. Credit: COURTESY OF THE JACKSON LABORATORY ARCHIVES" />The black 6 mouse, above, was developed around 1920 by Clarence Cook Little (1881-1971), below. Credit: COURTESY OF THE JACKSON LABORATORY ARCHIVES As a boy, Clarence Cook Little kept mice as pets, but his hobby became serious inquiry when he began studying Mendelian inheritance of mouse coat color under William Castle at Harvard Univer

Terry Sharrer
<figcaption>The black 6 mouse, above, was developed around 1920 by Clarence Cook Little (1881-1971), below. Credit: COURTESY OF THE JACKSON LABORATORY ARCHIVES</figcaption>
The black 6 mouse, above, was developed around 1920 by Clarence Cook Little (1881-1971), below. Credit: COURTESY OF THE JACKSON LABORATORY ARCHIVES

As a boy, Clarence Cook Little kept mice as pets, but his hobby became serious inquiry when he began studying Mendelian inheritance of mouse coat color under William Castle at Harvard University. Wilhelm Johannsen, the Danish botanist who coined the term "gene," showed the value of inbreeding to fix characteristics, and Little applied that idea to mice. In 1909, he produced the first inbred mouse strain, DBA, from repeatedly mating brother-sister pairs. Against a "fixed" genetic background, Little sought to sort a trait far more complex than coat color: cancer susceptibility. DBA, however, showed certain frailties from inbreeding that compromised its usefulness when more resilient strains came along.

Sometime around 1914, Little obtained a female mouse, code numbered 57, and a male, numbered 52, which he inbred through...

<figcaption> Credit: COURTESY OF THE JACKSON LABORATORY ARCHIVES</figcaption>
Credit: COURTESY OF THE JACKSON LABORATORY ARCHIVES

References

1. Strain info: http://jaxmice.jax.org/strain/000664.html 2. R.H. Waterston et al., (Mouse Genome Sequencing Consortium), "Initial sequencing and comparative analysis of the mouse genome," Nature, 420:520-62, 2002.

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