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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2018

Founder-specific inbreeding depression affects racing performance in Thoroughbred horses

Todd, Evelyn T.; Ho, Simon Y. W.; Thomson, Peter C.; Ang, Rachel A.; Velie, Brandon D.; Hamilton, Natasha A.

Abstract

The Thoroughbred horse has played an important role in both sporting and economic aspects of society since the establishment of the breed in the 1700s. The extensive pedigree and phenotypic information available for the Thoroughbred horse population provides a unique opportunity to examine the effects of 300 years of selective breeding on genetic load. By analysing the relationship between inbreeding and racing performance of 135,572 individuals, we found that selective breeding has not efficiently alleviated the Australian Thoroughbred population of its genetic load. However, we found evidence for purging in the population that might have improved racing performance over time. Over 80% of inbreeding in the contemporary population is accounted for by a small number of ancestors from the foundation of the breed. Inbreeding to these ancestors has variable effects on fitness, demonstrating that an understanding of the distribution of genetic load is important in improving the phenotypic value of a population in the future. Our findings hold value not only for Thoroughbred and other domestic breeds, but also for small and endangered populations where such comprehensive information is not available.

Published in

Scientific Reports
2018, Volume: 8, article number: 6167
Publisher: NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Genetics and Breeding

    Publication identifier

    DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-24663-x

    Permanent link to this page (URI)

    https://res.slu.se/id/publ/95041