It’s All in the Genes: Horse Traits and Heritability
Scientists are continuing to uncover which genes are responsible for certain traits in horses
What are you drawn to in a horse? A flashy coat color? A puppy dog personality? Smooth-as-molasses gaits? Well, your dream horse didn’t come by these traits by happenstance. Many characteristics such as coat color, height, athletic ability, and behavioral tendencies are genetic in nature. And researchers are using “genomics,” the study of gene heritability, structure, and function, to determine which characteristics are connected to which genes.
Before getting into the fun stuff, let’s break down the terminology. The genome includes all DNA that goes into an individual from sperm pairing with an egg. Every cell contains DNA in the form of chromosome pairs—except for gametes, or sex cells, which just have one chromosome.
Each strand of chromosomal DNA is made up of organic molecules called nucleotides (guanine, cytosine, adenine, and thymine). Their sequence leads to differences in the traits the individual displays—for example, coat
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