Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


The gene that turns ponies into large horses

TiHo researchers discover genetic causes of the body sizes of horses

Ponies have a maximum height of 148 centimetres. When the height at the withers is greater, they are deemed to be large horses. Scientists at the Institute for Animal Breeding and Genetics at University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover (TiHo) have investigated genetic causes for different body sizes in horses and found a gene with a very strong impact on size.

The researchers compared thousands of genetic variations between ponies and larger horses to determine whether a specific mutation is responsible for size differences in horses. Such point mutations on single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are the most common causes of genetic variations. Scientists then used gene expression analysis to identify a gene that has a crucial effect on the size development of horses. The results have been published in PloS One, an international specialised journal, at

The growth of the horses is determined by a mutation that influences the LCORL (ligand-dependent nuclear receptor compressor-like protein) gene. This mutation has the effect that the gene is not read as often in large horses as it is in ponies. "We conclude from these findings that LCORL limits size growth in horses. The more strongly LCORL is expressed, the smaller the horses are" said Professor Dr Ottmar Distl, the head of the Institute for Animal Breeding and Genetics at TiHo. All original Przewalski wild horses carried the pony mutation and purebred Arab horses also have only this genetic variant.

Warmblood horses show a greater variation of the height at the withers and have a great genetic variation. Almost half of this variation is due to regulatory mutation affecting LCORL. The smaller warmblood horses are homozygous for the pony mutation. Warmblood horses in the medium-sized range carry both genetic variants and are therefore heterozygous, while large warmblood horses are homozygous for the large horse mutation.

The large coldblood horse breeds such as the Rhenish-German Coldblood, the Saxon-Thuringia Coldblood, the Noriker and the South-German Coldblood do not include animals with the homozygous pony mutation and only a few of them are heterozygous. "The distribution of the pony mutation in the different horse breeds suggests that the mutation prevailing in large horses arose during the domestication of horses in Western Europe," explained Professor Distl.

LCORL influences the torso and hip length in humans, but does not act as a major regulator for size. However, scientists assume that LCORL has a very strong effect on the size of horses. There are also other genes involved in the complex characteristic "body size" and the scientists plan to investigate these genes in further studies.

Horse breeders can use these new findings for their breeding decisions. The Institute for Animal Breeding and Genetics at TiHo offers gene testing for this purpose. Further information is provided on the institute's website: /dienstleistungen/gentest/gentests-pferd/

For specialised queries, please contact:

Professor Dr. Ottmar Distl
University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover
Institute for Animal Breeding and Genetics
Tel.: +49 511 953-8875

Sonja von Brethorst | idw
Further information:

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Forest Management Yields Higher Productivity through Biodiversity
14.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Farming with forests
23.09.2016 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES)

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>