The horse genome sequence, funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), began in 2006 at Broad Institute in Boston, Mass. It was built on a 10-year collaborative effort from an international group of scientists seeking to address important health issues for equines, known as the Horse Genome Project.
In addition to sequencing the horse genome, researchers produced a map of horse genetic variation using DNA samples from a variety of modern and ancestral breeds, including the Akhal Teke, Andalusian, Arabian, Icelandic, American Quarter Horse, Standardbred and Thoroughbred. This map will provide scientists with a genome-wide view of genetic variability in horses and help them identify the genetic contribution to physical and behavioral differences, as well as to disease susceptibility.
Over the next several months, researchers plan to further improve the accuracy of the horse genome sequence.
With more than 80 known conditions in horses genetically similar to disorders seen in humans, researchers also plan to compare the two genomes. This will help them learn more about the human genome and will also serve as a tool for veterinary researchers to better understand the diseases that affect equines.
A publication analyzing the horse genome sequence and its implications for horse population genetics is in future plans.
This is very exciting! I hope that the exploration of genetic variations between breeds continues to include more of the ancient breeds (such as Fjord, Tarpan, Przewalski, etc), so that we can find out how horses settled the world. Thanks for bringing this article — but funny you should have used a herd of Lippizans for a picture! There’s a genome worth exploring, too!