Woodchuck hepatitis virus (WHV) infection is known to be endemic in areas of the mid-Atlantic states but is apparently absent from populations in New York and much of New England. Blood samples of 40 woodchucks (Marmota monax) from New York and from Delaware were examined by starch gel electrophoresis, and 18 monomorphic and six polymorphic protein-coding genetic systems were identified. Mendelian inheritance of variants of the six polymorphic systems was confirmed in 52 laboratory offspring of the original samples. Average heterozygosity of 0.066 in New York woodchucks and 0.039 in Delaware woodchucks were high values for mammals, although similar to those of other sciurids. Significant heterogeneity between samples from New York and Delaware woodchucks was observed at two loci (peptidase with glycyl leucine-4 and phosphogluconate dehydrogenase), suggesting that these populations were genetically distinct. Whether there are genetically determined differences in response to WHV infection remains to be determined experimentally.
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Vol. 23 • No. 2