Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

'Speed gene' in modern racehorses originated from British mare 300 years ago, scientists say

25.01.2012
Scientists have traced the origin of the 'speed gene' in Thoroughbred racehorses back to a single British mare that lived in the United Kingdom around 300 years ago, according to findings published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

The origin of the 'speed gene' (C type myostatin gene variant) was revealed by analysing DNA from hundreds of horses, including DNA extracted from the skeletal remains of 12 celebrated Thoroughbred stallions born between 1764 and 1930.

"Changes in racing since the foundation of the Thoroughbred have shaped the distribution of 'speed gene' types over time and in different racing regions," explained Dr Emmeline Hill, the senior author of the study, and a genomics scientist at the School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin.

"But we have been able to identify that the original 'speed gene' variant entered the Thoroughbred from a single founder, which was most likely a British mare about 300 years ago, when local British horse types were the preeminent racing horses, prior to the formal foundation of the Thoroughbred racehorse."

The international scientific team led by scientists from University College Dublin (UCD), Equinome Ltd., and the University of Cambridge, have traced all modern variants of the original 'speed gene' to the legendary Nearctic (1954-1973), and attribute the wider expansion of these variants to Northern Dancer (1961-1990), the son of Nearctic, and one of the most influential stallions of modern times.

"Having first identified the 'speed gene' in 2010, we decided to see if we could trace the origin of the gene variant using population genetics coupled with pedigree analysis. We wanted to understand where speed in the Thoroughbred came from."

Dr Hill is also a co-founder of Equinome, a UCD spin-out company headquartered at NovaUCD, which has developed The Equinome Speed Gene Test. This test is currently being used by the global bloodstock and racing industry to identify the optimum racing distance for individual Thoroughbred horses.

"We traced the economically valuable gene variant by determining 'speed gene' type in almost 600 horses from 22 Eurasian and North American horse breeds, museum bone and tooth specimens from 12 legendary Thoroughbred stallions, 330 elite performing modern Thoroughbreds from 3 continents, 40 donkeys and two zebras" added Dr Hill.

According to co-author Dr Mim Bower from the University of Cambridge, UK, "The findings point to a British mare as the most likely single founder of the original 'speed gene' because one of the lines of evidence from the research demonstrated that the prize stallions of the 17th and 18th centuries had two copies of the T type speed gene variant (T:T) which is linked to greater stamina."

"At this time in the history of horse racing, races were between two horses competed over multiple heats, at distances of between two to four miles, and repeated until a horse had won the event twice or 'distanced' the opponent. Horses did not race until they were five or six years old, and then only two or three times in their lives. This is consistent with these horses being T:T types.", said Dr Bower

An increased premium on speed and precocity developed as two-year-old races became popular during the last century, and in many regions of the world, these preferences remain to this day.

Dr Hill explained, "For example, in Australia, the myostatin 'speed gene' type (C:C), which is best suited to fast, short-distance, sprint races, is more common and there is a market driven demand for horses with at least one copy of the C type gene variant."

"This just goes to show the power breeders have to shape the genetic make-up of their horses. Decisions regarding the race pattern in each racing jurisdiction and the commercial demand for certain types will also rapidly influence the genetic make-up of the population."

To identify where the C type gene variant originated, the researchers analysed DNA samples from more than 20 horse breeds that included representatives of local British and Irish horses, from where female Thoroughbred lineages derive, and exotic eastern populations from where male Thoroughbred lineages derive.

The study identified the Shetland breed as having the highest frequency of the C type gene variant. The Shetland represents local British horse types, which were the preeminent racing horses prior to the formal foundation of the Thoroughbred.

By comparing the diversity of the chromosomes around the C and T type gene variants researchers found only a single C type compared to 11 different T type gene variants, meaning that the 'speed gene' entered the Thoroughbred just once.

"The results show that the 'speed gene' entered the Thoroughbred from a single founder, which was most likely a British mare about 300 years ago when local British horse types were the preeminent racing horses, prior to the formal foundation of the Thoroughbred racehorse." said Dr Hill.

Collaborators in the study were scientists from Trinity College Dublin, the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. The research was supported by grants from The Horserace Betting Levy Board, Leverhulme Trust, Cambridge Overseas Trust and Science Foundation Ireland.

"I am very grateful for the support of our research. Ireland has been renowned as a leader in the production of world class racehorses for generations, and continues to lead now in the application of new scientific technologies in breeding and racing. We are seeing a shift globally to scientifically informed decision-making." said Dr Hill.

Dominic Martella | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucd.ie

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht 'Y' a protein unicorn might matter in glaucoma
23.10.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology

nachricht Microfluidics probe 'cholesterol' of the oil industry
23.10.2017 | Rice University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Salmonella as a tumour medication

HZI researchers developed a bacterial strain that can be used in cancer therapy

Salmonellae are dangerous pathogens that enter the body via contaminated food and can cause severe infections. But these bacteria are also known to target...

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

3rd Symposium on Driving Simulation

23.10.2017 | Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microfluidics probe 'cholesterol' of the oil industry

23.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Gamma rays will reach beyond the limits of light

23.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The end of pneumonia? New vaccine offers hope

23.10.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>