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Intelligence Genes In Trotters Detected

Published: April 30, 2019 11:15 am ET

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According to findings from a recent study, breeding for brains might be just as important as breeding for speed when it comes to producing successful harness racehorses.

A study of 613 Norwegian-Swedish Coldblooded Trotters which was conducted last year determined that eight specific genes appeared to have a direct correlation to the horses’ on-track success.

The study, which was published by BMC Genetics, concluded that while certain physiological-centric genes were related to the horses’ success, other genes that specifically deal with learning ability and memory were as important.

Through their study, the researchers were able to scrutinize eight particular genes. They determined that four of the genes were related to specific physiological factors, while two were related to learning, memory and intelligence.

A brief explanation of the six genes appears below.

  • ATPase copper transporting beta (ATP7B): Helps get copper out of cells, potentially reducing muscle stiffness;

  • Phosphatidylinositol-4-phosphate 5-kinase type 1 beta (PIP5K1B): Might affect neuron development and oxidative stress;

  • Phosphodiesterase 3A (PDE3A): Plays a role in cardiovascular function;

  • Inositol polyphosphate-5-phosphatase D (INPP5D) & SRY-box 5 (SOX5): Involved in embryonic development and immune responses;

  • Potassium channel regulator (KCNRG): Manages potassium movement in cells, possibly related to learning ability and exercise tolerance; and;

  • Dedicator of cytokinesis 8 (DOCK8): Influences intelligence and motor skills, probably including the ability to maintain a gait.

As part of its conclusion, the study stated that further analyses of the genes in question – based on additional genetic and functional studies – are required to explore the position in greater detail. The conclusion also states that future studies should also consider a validation study with an independent population as well as sequencing of candidate genes to better identify causal alleles.

(With files from BMC Genetics)

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