An investigation of the genetic aspects of fertility was conducted among inbred and hybrid generations of rats. The high-fertility LEW strain and the low fertility CAS strain were crossed and their hybrids inbred for four generations. Litter size, ovulation rate, sterility, and the weights of the thyroid, pituitary, adrenals, testes, seminal vesicles, ventral prostate, uterus, and ovaries were analysed in inbred and hybrid rats for evidence of strain differences and heterosis and in successive generations of sib matings for inbreeding depression.
CAS females produced smaller litters and had smaller thyroids, pituitaries, adrenals, ovaries, and uteri than LEW females. CAS males had larger testes but smaller adrenals than LEW males. Results of crosses included heterosis for female pituitary and ovary weights, but inbreeding depression for the weights of male adrenals, seminal vesicles, and ventral prostates, and female thyroids and uteri. Ovulation rate did not differ between strains and was not an important determinant of litter size in this study.
The decrease in litter size as a result of inbreeding was due partly to the inbreeding of the parents and partly to the inbreeding of the litter.