The first draft of the horse genome sequence has been placed in public databases, a tool that will help veterinary researchers better understand the diseases that affect equines.
The $15 million project to sequence about 2.7 billion DNA base pairs in the genome of the horse began a year ago, building upon a 10-year collaborative effort among an international group of scientists, known as the Horse Genome Project.
The researchers used DNA from Twilight, a Thoroughbred mare from Cornell University, for the sequencing project.
Researchers have also produced a map of horse genetic variation using DNA samples from a variety of modern and ancestral breeds, including the Akel Teke, Andalusian, Arabian, Icelandic, Quarter, Standardbred and Thoroughbred. The map will provide scientists with a genome-wide view of genetic variability in horses and help them identify the genetic contributions to physical and behavioral differences, as well as to disease susceptibility.
There are more than 80 known genetic conditions in horses that are genetically similar to disorders seen in humans, including musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
Comparing the horse and human genomes will also help medical researchers learn more about the human genome.
The project was funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute, one of the National Institutes of Health.
The horse genome sequence data can be found at www.ncbi.nih.gov/genbank.