Genetics of performance traits in horses

The myostatin gene has been associated with racing performance in horses. This project investigates the role of mutations in the myostatin gene on the athletic performance of different horse breeds.

In modern horse breeding athletic performance has been considered as the most important criteria for selection and horses with superior athletic performance are of the highest value. They have been selected for working, riding, racing and endurance performance since their domestication and possess a range of functional and structural adaptations for exceptional athletic performance.

Traits of athletic performance are of complex nature and are highly dependent on such factors as environment, management and training. However, since the end of 20th century it has been accepted that there are underlying genetic factors and the heritability of various measures of racing performance have been considered as high. In addition, studies in humans, rats and mice have revealed a large number of genes that are involved in elite athletic performance.

Myostatin has been proved to be one of the genes with an important role in horse athletic performance and polymorphism of this gene (g.66493737) has been associated with the best race distance in thoroughbred horses (Hill et. al., 2010). Myostatin (MSTN), or transforming growth factor-8 (TGF-8), is a member of TGF-B superfamily and was discovered by McPherron (1997) during the search of new TGF-B superfamily members.

This project involves investigation of polymorphisms in the myostatin gene and its correlation with different measures of athletic performance traits in Nordic horse breeds.

If you're interested in this project, please contact:
Gabriella Lindgren

Dept. of Animal Breeding and Genetics, SLU

Other projects in Gabriella Lindgren’s group can be found on the department's web page with degree projects.