Einstein Science Reporting for Kids
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5-Nov-2009

Contact: Science Press Package
scipak@aaas.org
202-326-6440
American Association for the Advancement of Science

Handling the horse genome



Twilight, a thoroughbred mare raised and stabled at Cornell University, was the DNA donor for the equine whole genome sequencing project.

Researchers have successfully sequenced the horse genome, and they say it sheds light on how the creatures were domesticated long ago. They also say the newly sequenced genome shows many similarities to the genomes of other mammals, like cows. It even has some things in common with the human genome!

Claire Wade and a team of researchers from around the world present this new data to the scientific community—the first high-quality draft sequence of the horse, or Equus caballus. The horse used in the study is a grey research horse named Twilight, who is owned by Cornell University.



Twilight, a thoroughbred mare raised and stabled at Cornell University, was the DNA donor for the equine whole genome sequencing project.

One of the key findings on the horse genome is a region that appears to forming a brand new centromere (the middle part of a chromosome that plays a major role in cell division). Wade and the researchers also note that about 53 percent of horse genes appear on chromosomes in the same order as found on human chromosomes—a phenomenon known as conserved synteny between species—and those genes might serve as models for human disorders in the future. They say the new centromere is functional and stable, but too new to have gained the typical marks of other mammalian centromeres.

This newly sequenced horse genome also indicates that horses were domesticated from a relatively large number of females, but very few males. This research appears in the 6 November 2009 issue of Science.

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