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The equine Adam lived fairly recently: Close relationships among modern stallions
Date:4/4/2013

on of over 600 stallions from 58 (largely European) breeds showed that the animals could be grouped into six basic lines or haplotypes. The ancestral haplotype is distributed across almost all breeds and geographical regions. A second haplotype also occurs at high frequencies across a broad range of breeds, although not in northern European breeds or in horses from the Iberian Peninsula. A third haplotype is present in almost all English Thoroughbreds and in many warm-blooded breeds. The final three haplotypes are only found in local northern European breeds: one in Icelandic horses, one in Norwegian Fjord horses and one in Shetland ponies.

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,
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Contact: Dr. Barbara Wallner
barbara.wallner@vetmeduni.ac.at
43-125-077-5627
University of Veterinary Medicine -- Vienna
Source:Eurekalert

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