Sunday, 19 February 2012

How the Quarter Horse Won the Rodeo

ScienceDaily (Feb. 17, 2012) — American Quarter Horses are renowned for their speed, agility, and calm disposition. Consequently over four million Quarter Horses are used as working horses on ranches, as show horses or at rodeos. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Genomics used 'next-generation' sequencing to map variation in the genome of a Quarter Horse mare. Analysis of genetic variants associated with specific traits showed that compared to a Thoroughbred the Quarter Horse's genome was enriched for variants in genes involved in sensory perception, signal transduction and the immune system.


This is an American Quarter Horse mare -- the first to have its genome sequenced using "next generation" sequencing. (Credit: Dr. Scott Dindot, Texas A&M University)



Quarter Horses have been selectively bred to improve speed over short distances. However they also prone to some disorders such as hereditary equine regional dermal asthenia (HERDA) where their skin is fragile and tears easily.
Researchers from Texas A&M University sequenced a Quarter Horse genome with the aim of finding what makes these horses so special. They looked at genetic variants, including single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP), copy number variants (CNV), insertions and deletions (INDELs), as well as mutations associated with performance traits and diseases which are responsible for the makeup of these horses. By comparing the Quarter Horse's sequence with that of a Thoroughbred, over three million of these variations were found. With the help of a human gene identification library, pathways, traits and diseases associated with the variations and mutations found in the horse were identified.

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