The pedigree of horses is very tightly controlled, with studbooks in many cases going as far back as the 18th century. Combining the results of the genetic analysis with pedigree data enabled the scientists to trace the paternal roots of many of the current male lines. Wallner feels that, "the results were intriguing, for example in the way the distribution of one haplotype reflects the widespread movement of stallions from the Middle East to Central and Western Europe in the past 200 years. Another haplotype results from a mutation that occurred in the famous English Thoroughbred stallion 'Eclipse' or in his son or grandson. It is amazing to see how much influence this line has had on modern sport horses: almost all English Thoroughbreds and nearly half the modern sport horse breeds carry the Eclipse haplotype."
The Vetmeduni Vienna scientists have confirmed the low diversity of the horse Y chromosome, which contrasts sharply with range of mitochondrial DNA haplotypes observed in modern horses. The difference is presumably due to the strong variation in male reproductive success. Wild horses have a polygynous breeding pattern, while the intensive breeding practices in domestic horses mean that single stallions can effectively pass on their DNA to entire generations. The senior author on the paper,
|Contact: Dr. Barbara Wallner|
University of Veterinary Medicine -- Vienna