Researchers exploring the genetic architecture underlying horse performance identified more than 650 candidate genes in a review of scientific papers with a potential role in their athleticism.
It is assumed that the athletic performance of horses is influenced by a large number of genes, Thayssa Littiere and her colleagues wrote in the journal Animals.
“However, to date, not many genomic studies have been performed to identify candidate genes,” the study team from the Federal University of Vales do Jequitinhonha e Mucuri in Brazil reported.
“Complex traits, such as horse performance, are subject to the interaction of a large number of genes,” they said.
For their study, they carried out a systematic review of genome-wide association studies, followed by functional analyses aimed at identifying candidate genes for horse performance.
“We were successful in identifying 669 candidate genes,” they said.
From that, gene networks of biological processes were constructed, highlighting processes associated with horse performance. This helped identify 53 of the genes as being more associated with performance traits in horses than the others.
These 53 genes in particular may provide insights into the genetic architecture underlying horse performance in different breeds around the world, they said.
The genes identified had roles in a raft of metabolic processes, including the likes of arterial blood pressure, regulation of glucose metabolism, regulation of vascular endothelial growth factor production, skeletal system development, cellular response to fatty acids and cellular response to lipids.
The study team comprised Littiere, Gustavo Castro, Maria del Pilar Rodriguez, Cristina Bonafé, Ana Magalhães, João Vieira, Cassiane Santos and Lucas Verardo, all with the Federal University of Vales do Jequitinhonha e Mucuri; and Rafael Faleiros, with the Federal University of Minas Gerais, also in Brazil.
Littiere, T.O.; Castro, G.H.F.; Rodriguez, M.P.R.; Bonafé, C.M.; Magalhães, A.F.B.; Faleiros, R.R.; Vieira, J.I.G.; Santos, C.G.; Verardo, L.L. Identification and Functional Annotation of Genes Related to Horses’ Performance: From GWAS to Post-GWAS. Animals 2020, 10, 1173.