Knowing a horse's genome could pay off big at the race track.
- A new genetic test could identify a horse's ideal racing distance.
- Variations in a gene responsible for muscle cell production separate long-distance runners from sprinters.
- Although the test costs $1,400, training a horse costs tens of thousands of dollars.
Equinome, a horse genome sequencing company based in Ireland, has developed a new genetic test to identify a horse's ideal racing distance based on a gene that encodes for muscle development. The research could help horse breeders and trainers pick a horse with winning potential.
"Human studies have found over 200 genes responsible for an individual's health and fitness," said Emmaline Hill, Chairman of Equinome. "We also expected a large number of genes would contribute to a horse's performance, so we were surprised when we identified one gene with such a large effect."
Known as MSTN, the gene regulates myostatin, a protein that controls muscle cell production. There are three different variants of the myostatin gene a horse can inherit: TT, CC and CT. Horses with the TT version develop muscles later in life. Horses with the CC version develop their muscles earlier.