A recent study published in BMC Genomics has explored the genetics of trotting racing ability in horses. The study identified hundreds of candidate regions contributing to the horses’ trotting racing ability, which was described as “undoubtedly polygenic”. The results further suggest that racing ability may be a product of mental characteristics, not only physical ones. A strong racing ability signal on ECA11 was also identified, something the authors found especially interesting to study further. The sequencing was performed using the National Genomics Infrastructure (NGI) at SciLifeLab.
According to the authors, horses are especially useful to study when it comes to athleticism, since they often are bred for athletic purposes, such as strength and/or speed. Racehorses in particular provide an opportunity to identify genes and molecular mechanisms underpinning athletic ability, since they have been carefully bred for centuries, which have led to alleles with effects on athleticism being enriched over time.