Signatures of selection in the genome of Swedish warmblood horses selected for sport performance.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:A growing demand for improved physical skills and mental attitude in modern sport horses has led to strong selection for performance in many warmblood studbooks. The aim of this study was to detect genomic regions with low diversity, and therefore potentially under selection, in Swedish Warmblood horses (SWB) by analysing high-density SNP data. To investigate if such signatures could be the result of selection for equestrian sport performance, we compared our SWB SNP data with those from Exmoor ponies, a horse breed not selected for sport performance traits. RESULTS:The genomic scan for homozygous regions identified long runs of homozygosity (ROH) shared by more than 85% of the genotyped SWB individuals. Such ROH were located on ECA4, ECA6, ECA7, ECA10 and ECA17. Long ROH were instead distributed evenly across the genome of Exmoor ponies in 77% of the chromosomes. Two population differentiation tests (FST and XP-EHH) revealed signatures of selection on ECA1, ECA4, and ECA6 in SWB horses. CONCLUSIONS:Genes related to behaviour, physical abilities and fertility, appear to be targets of selection in the SWB breed. This study provides a genome-wide map of selection signatures in SWB horses, and ground for further functional studies to unravel the biological mechanisms behind complex traits in horses.
Project description:The equestrian sport horse Swedish Warmblood (SWB) originates from versatile cavalry horses. Most modern SWB breeders have specialized their breeding either towards show jumping or dressage disciplines. The aim of this study was to explore the genomic structure of SWB horses to evaluate the presence of genomic subpopulations, and to search for signatures of selection in subgroups of SWB with high or low breeding values (EBVs) for show jumping. We analyzed high density genotype information from 380 SWB horses born in the period 2010-2011, and used Principal Coordinates Analysis and Discriminant Analysis of Principal Components to detect population stratification. Fixation index and Cross Population Extended Haplotype Homozygosity scores were used to scan the genome for potential signatures of selection. In accordance with current breeding practice, this study highlights the development of two separate breed subpopulations with putative signatures of selection in eleven chromosomes. These regions involve genes with known function in, e.g., mentality, endogenous reward system, development of connective tissues and muscles, motor control, body growth and development. This study shows genetic divergence, due to specialization towards different disciplines in SWB horses. This latter evidence can be of interest for SWB and other horse studbooks encountering specialized breeding.
Project description:Modern horses represent heterogeneous populations specifically selected for appearance and performance. Genomic regions under high selective pressure show characteristic runs of homozygosity (ROH) which represent a low genetic diversity. This study aims at detecting the number and functional distribution of ROHs in different horse populations using next generation sequencing data.Next generation sequencing was performed for two Sorraia, one Dülmen Horse, one Arabian, one Saxon-Thuringian Heavy Warmblood, one Thoroughbred and four Hanoverian. After quality control reads were mapped to the reference genome EquCab2.70. ROH detection was performed using PLINK, version 1.07 for a trimmed dataset with 11,325,777 SNPs and a mean read depth of 12. Stretches with homozygous genotypes of >40 kb as well as >400 kb were defined as ROHs. SNPs within consensus ROHs were tested for neutrality. Functional classification was done for genes annotated within ROHs using PANTHER gene list analysis and functional variants were tested for their distribution among breed or non-breed groups.ROH detection was performed using whole genome sequences of ten horses of six populations representing various breed types and non-breed horses. In total, an average number of 3492 ROHs were detected in windows of a minimum of 50 consecutive homozygous SNPs and an average number of 292 ROHs in windows of 500 consecutive homozygous SNPs. Functional analyses of private ROHs in each horse revealed a high frequency of genes affecting cellular, metabolic, developmental, immune system and reproduction processes. In non-breed horses, 198 ROHs in 50-SNP windows and seven ROHs in 500-SNP windows showed an enrichment of genes involved in reproduction, embryonic development, energy metabolism, muscle and cardiac development whereas all seven breed horses revealed only three common ROHs in 50-SNP windows harboring the fertility-related gene YES1. In the Hanoverian, a total of 18 private ROHs could be shown to be located in the region of genes potentially involved in neurologic control, signaling, glycogen balance and reproduction. Comparative analysis of homozygous stretches common in all ten horses displayed three ROHs which were all located in the region of KITLG, the ligand of KIT known to be involved in melanogenesis, haematopoiesis and gametogenesis.The results of this study give a comprehensive insight into the frequency and number of ROHs in various horses and their potential influence on population diversity and selection pressures. Comparisons of breed and non-breed horses suggest a significant artificial as well as natural selection pressure on reproduction performance in all types of horse populations.
Project description:Intensive artificial and natural selection have shaped substantial variation among European horse breeds. Whereas most equine selection signature studies employ divergent genetic population structures in order to derive specific inter-breed targets of selection, we screened a total of 1476 horses originating from 12 breeds for the loss of genetic diversity by runs of homozygosity (ROH) utilizing a 670,000 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping array. Overlapping homozygous regions (ROH islands) indicating signatures of selection were identified by breed and similarities/dissimilarities between populations were evaluated. In the entire dataset, 180 ROH islands were identified, whilst 100 islands were breed specific, all other overlapped in 36 genomic regions with at least one ROH island of another breed. Furthermore, two ROH hot spots were determined at horse chromosome 3 (ECA3) and ECA11. Besides the confirmation of previously documented target genes involved in selection for coat color (MC1R, STX17, ASIP), body size (LCORL/NCAPG, ZFAT, LASP1, HMGA2), racing ability (PPARGC1A), behavioral traits (GRIN2B, NTM/OPCML) and gait patterns (DMRT3), several putative target genes related to embryonic morphogenesis (HOXB), energy metabolism (IGFBP-1, IGFBP-3), hair follicle morphogenesis (KRT25, KRT27, INTU) and autophagy (RALB) were highlighted. Furthermore, genes were pinpointed which might be involved in environmental adaptation of specific habitats (UVSSA, STXBP4, COX11, HLF, MMD).
Project description:Fatty acids, as key components of cellular membranes and complex lipids, may play a central role in endocrine signalling and the function of adipose tissue and liver. Thus, the lipid fatty acid composition may play a role in health status in the equine. This study aimed to investigate the fatty acid composition of different tissues and liver lipid classes by comparing Warmblood horses and Shetland ponies under defined conditions. We hypothesized that ponies show different lipid patterns than horses in adipose tissue, liver and plasma. Six Warmblood horses and six Shetland ponies were housed and fed under identical conditions. Tissue and blood sampling were performed following a standardized protocol. A one-step lipid extraction, methylation and trans-esterification method with subsequent gas chromatography was used to analyse the total lipid content and fatty acid profile of retroperitoneal, mesocolon and subcutaneous adipose tissue, liver and plasma. Fatty acids were grouped according to their degree of saturation and their conjugated double bond into the respective lipid classes. In the adipose tissues, saturated fatty acids (SFAs) and n-9 monounsaturated fatty acids (n-9 MUFAs) were most present in ponies and horses. N-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-6 PUFAs), followed by SFAs, were most frequently found in liver tissue and plasma in all animals. Horses, in comparison to ponies, had significantly higher n-6 PUFA levels in all tissues and plasma. In liver tissue, horses had significantly lower hepatic iso-branched-chain fatty acids (iso-BCFAs) than ponies. The hepatic fatty acid composition of selected lipid classes was different between horses and ponies. In the polar PL fraction, horses had low n-9 MUFA and n-3 PUFA contents but higher n-6 PUFA contents than ponies. Furthermore, iso-BCFAs are absent in several hepatic lipid fractions of horses but not ponies. The differences in fatty acid lipid classes between horses and ponies provide key information on the species- and location-specific regulation of FA metabolism, thus affecting health status such as inflammatory responses.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Copy Number Variation (CNV) is a common form of genetic variation underlying animal evolution and phenotypic diversity across a wide range of species. In the mammalian genome, high frequency of CNV differentiation between breeds may be candidates for population-specific selection. However, CNV differentiation, selection and its population genetics have been poorly explored in horses.<h4>Results</h4>We investigated the patterns, population variation and gene annotation of CNV using the Axiom® Equine Genotyping Array (670,796 SNPs) from a large cohort of individuals (N?=?1755) belonging to eight European horse breeds, varying from draught horses to several warmblood populations. After quality control, 152,640 SNP CNVs (individual markers), 18,800 segment CNVs (consecutive SNP CNVs of same gain/loss state or both) and 939 CNV regions (CNVRs; overlapping segment CNVs by at least 1?bp) compared to the average signal of the reference (Belgian draught horse) were identified. Our analyses showed that Equus caballus chromosome 12 (ECA12) was the most enriched in segment CNV gains and losses (~?3% average proportion of the genome covered), but the highest number of segment CNVs were detected on ECA1 and ECA20 (regardless of size). The Friesian horses showed private SNP CNV gains (>?20% of the samples) on ECA1 and Exmoor ponies displayed private SNP CNV losses on ECA25 (>?20% of the samples). The Warmblood cluster showed private SNP CNV gains located in ECA9 and Draught cluster showed private SNP CNV losses located in ECA7. The length of the CNVRs ranged from 1?kb to 21.3?Mb. A total of 10,612 genes were annotated within the CNVRs. The PANTHER annotation of these genes showed significantly under- and overrepresented gene ontology biological terms related to cellular processes and immunity (Bonferroni P-value <?0.05). We identified 80 CNVRs overlapping with known QTL for fertility, coat colour, conformation and temperament. We also report 67 novel CNVRs.<h4>Conclusions</h4>This work revealed that CNV patterns, in the genome of some European horse breeds, occurred in specific genomic regions. The results provide support to the hypothesis that high frequency private CNVs residing in genes may potentially be responsible for the diverse phenotypes seen between horse breeds.
Project description:The study of selection signatures helps to find genomic regions that have been under selective pressure and might host genes or variants that modulate important phenotypes. Such knowledge improves our understanding of how breeding programmes have shaped the genomes of livestock. In this study, 942 stallions were included from four, exemplarily chosen, German warmblood breeds with divergent historical and recent selection focus and different crossbreeding policies: Trakehner (N = 44), Holsteiner (N = 358), Hanoverian (N = 319) and Oldenburger (N = 221). Those breeds are nowadays bred for athletic performance and aptitude for show-jumping, dressage or eventing, with a particular focus of Holsteiner on the first discipline. Blood samples were collected during the health exams of the stallion preselections before licensing and were genotyped with the Illumina EquineSNP50 BeadChip. Autosomal markers were used for a multi-method search for signals of positive selection. Analyses within and across breeds were conducted by using the integrated Haplotype Score (iHS), cross-population Extended Haplotype Homozygosity (xpEHH) and Runs of Homozygosity (ROH). Oldenburger and Hanoverian showed very similar iHS signatures, but breed specificities were detected on multiple chromosomes with the xpEHH. The Trakehner clustered as a distinct group in a principal component analysis and also showed the highest number of ROHs, which reflects their historical bottleneck. Beside breed specific differences, we found shared selection signals in an across breed iHS analysis on chromosomes 1, 4 and 7. After investigation of these iHS signals and shared ROH for potential functional candidate genes and affected pathways including enrichment analyses, we suggest that genes affecting muscle functionality (TPM1, TMOD2-3, MYO5A, MYO5C), energy metabolism and growth (AEBP1, RALGAPA2, IGFBP1, IGFBP3-4), embryonic development (HOXB-complex) and fertility (THEGL, ZPBP1-2, TEX14, ZP1, SUN3 and CFAP61) have been targeted by selection in all breeds. Our findings also indicate selection pressure on KITLG, which is well-documented for influencing pigmentation.
Project description:Obesity is a major health concern in many domesticated equids animals since it is related to metabolic abnormalities such as insulin dysregulation, hyperlipidaemia or laminitis. Ponies especially are known as "easy keepers" and are often affected by obesity and its related metabolic disorders. Research in the last decade indicated that the intestinal microbiota may play an important role in the development of obesity, at least in humans. Therefore, the objective of our study was to characterize changes in the faecal microbiota during a two-year weight gain programme which compared ponies and warmblood horses. For this purpose, 10 Shetland ponies and ten warmblood horses were fed a ration which provided 200% of their maintenance energy requirement over two years. Feed intake, body weight, body condition and cresty neck score were recorded weekly. At three standardized time points faecal samples were collected to characterize the faecal microbiota and its fermentation products such as short chain fatty acids and lactate. Next generation sequencing was used for the analysis of the faecal microbiota. During body weight gain the richness of the faecal microbiota decreased in ponies. Besides changes in the phylum Firmicutes in ponies that were already described in human studies, we found a decrease of the phylum Fibrobacteres in horses and an increase of the phylum Actinobacteria. We were also able to show that the phylum Fibrobacteres is more common in the microbiota of horses than in the microbiota of ponies. Therefore, the fibrolytic phylum Fibrobacteres seems to be an interesting phylum in the equine microbiota that should receive more attention in future studies.
Project description:Warmblood fragile foal syndrome (WFFS) is an autosomal recessive disorder caused by a single nucleotide variant in the <i>procollagen-lysine-2-oxoglutarate-5-dioxygenase 1</i> gene (PLOD1:c.2032G>A, p.Gly678Arg). Homozygosity for the PLOD1 variant causes an Ehler-Danlos-like syndrome, which has to date only been reported in warmblood breeds but the WFFS allele has been also detected in the Thoroughbred. To investigate the breed distribution of the WFFS allele, 4081 horses belonging to 38 different breeds were screened. In total, 4.9% of the horses representing 21 breeds carried the WFFS allele. The affected breeds were mainly warmbloods, with carrier frequency as high as 17% in the Hanoverian and Danish Warmblood. The WFFS allele was not detected in most non-warmblood breeds. Exceptions include WFFS carriers in the Thoroughbred (17/716), Haflinger (2/48), American Sport Pony (1/12), and Knabstrupper (3/46). The origin of the WFFS allele remains unknown. The Arabian breed and specifically the stallion Bairactar Or. Ar. (1813), whose offspring were reported to have a similar phenotype in the 19th century, were hypothesized as the origin. DNA from a museum sample of Bairactar Or. Ar. showed that he did not carry the mutated allele. This result, together with the genotypes of 302 Arabians, all homozygous for the reference allele, does not support an Arabian origin of the WFFS allele. Our extensive survey shows the WFFS allele to be of moderate frequency and concern in warmbloods and also in breeds where it may not be expected.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Human obesity is linked with systemic inflammation. However, it is still controversial if equines produce more inflammatory cytokines with increasing body weight and if the production of those show breed type specific patterns. The main objective of this study was to determine if diet induced obesity is associated with increased inflammatory signatures in adipose tissue of equines and if a breed predisposition exists between ponies and horses. Additionally, we aimed to identify adipose tissue depot differences in inflammatory cytokine expression. Nineteen healthy, non-overweight and metabolically healthy equines received a hypercaloric diet for 2 years. Body weight, body condition score and cresty neck score were assessed weekly throughout the study. At three time points, insulin sensitivity was determined by a combined glucose-insulin test. Adipose tissue samples were collected from two intra-abdominal and two subcutaneous depots under general anesthesia at each time point after an endotoxin trigger. In the adipose tissue samples levels of CD68 mRNA (a marker of macrophage infiltration) and pro-inflammatory cytokine mRNA (IL-1?, IL-6 and TNF?) were analyzed with RT-qPCR. As markers of lipid metabolism mRNA levels of lipoprotein lipase (LPL) and fatty acid binding protein 4 (FABP4) were determined with RT-qPCR. RESULTS:CD68 mRNA levels increased with body weight gain in several adipose tissue (AT) depots (Wilcoxon signed rank test with Bonferroni correction; retroperitoneal AT horses: P?=?0.023, mesocolonial AT horses: P?=?0.023, subcutaneous tail head AT ponies: P?=?0.015). In both abdominal depots CD68 mRNA levels were higher than in subcutaneous adipose tissue depots (Kruskal-Wallis-ANOVA with Bonferroni correction: P?<?0.05). No breed related differences were found. Pro-inflammatory cytokine mRNA IL-1?, IL-6 and TNF? levels were higher in subcutaneous depots compared to abdominal depots after body weight gain. IL-1?, IL-6 and TNF? mRNA levels of mesocolon adipose tissue were higher in obese horses compared to obese ponies (Mann-Whitney-U test; IL-1?: P?=?0.006; IL-6: P?=?0.003; TNF?: P?=?0.049). In general, horses had higher FABP4 and LPL mRNA levels compared to ponies in neck AT and tail AT at all time points. CONCLUSION:Our findings suggest an increased invasion of macrophages in intra-abdominal adipose tissue with increasing body weight gain in equines in combination with a low dose endotoxin stimulus. This might predispose equines to obesity related comorbidities. In obese horses mesocolon adipose tissue showed higher inflammatory cytokine expression compared to obese ponies. Additionally, subcutaneous adipose tissue expressed more pro-inflammatory cytokines compared to intra-abdominal adipose tissue. Horses had higher FABP4 and LPL mRNA levels in selected AT depots which may indicate a higher fat storage capacity than in ponies. The differences in lipid storage might be associated with a higher susceptibility to obesity-related comorbidities in ponies in comparison to horses.
Project description:Sport horses need to fulfill high physical and psychological requirements during training and competition. These as well as certain conditions of modern husbandry may affect their wellbeing. Here we aimed to (1) evaluate effects of demographic and management factors as well as personality traits on stress reactivity of sport horses, (2) investigate if elite sport horses have elevated stress levels compared to amateur sport horses, and (3) assess whether different equestrian disciplines differentially influence equine adrenal cortex responsiveness. For this purpose, we visited 149 healthy elite (n = 94) and amateur (n = 54) sport horses in Switzerland and performed an adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) stimulation test. Additionally, a person who was familiar with the horse completed a questionnaire about demographic and management factors and their horses' personality traits. Linear models were calculated to assess associations between the questionnaire data and salivary cortisol 60 (T60) and 90 (T90) minutes after ACTH stimulation. While the model at T90 was not significant, post-stimulatory cortisol after 60 minutes appears most informative in line with a previous study and was significantly affected by the breed and by three management factors: "number of riders", "hours spent outside" and "group housing" (adjusted r2 = 15%, p<0.001). Thoroughbred and Warmblood horses displayed an increased adrenal response compared to Franches-Montagnes horses. Horses with several riders had a less pronounced reaction than horses with one rider, and horses that spent more time outside had a decreased response compared to horses that were stabled most of the time. Horses living in groups showed higher post-stimulatory cortisol values than horses that were housed singly. However, no significant associations of cortisol responsiveness with personality traits were found, and neither the use as elite or as amateur sport horses nor the discipline had an effect on the cortisol response. This suggests that optimizing husbandry conditions may be more important for improving equine welfare than changing their use.