Differences in the genomic DNA sequence between individual horses are called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP, or “snips”). If SNP are located near each other on a chromosome, they will likely be inherited together; this proximity enables researchers to investigate specific regions of the genome that vary in frequency between horses.
While most rearrangements are benign, some are fatal, such as the over lethal white gene responsible for a disease that suppresses intestinal activity. You’ve probably heard people describe chestnuts, or “redheads” as they’re fondly called, as excitable and reactive.
This gene is responsible for signaling cells called melanocytes to produce the pigment melanin and establish base coat color. In humans the MC1R loss-of-function mutation results in red hair, along with increased sensitivity to the sun and a lower pain tolerance.
The Asia gene works in the same signaling pathway to suppress the effect of the MC1R gene. Brooks and her colleagues surveyed owners of 215 Tennessee Walking Horses to compare 20 temperament traits with DNA information extracted from the base of their hair follicles. This particular mutation might also keep the adrenal gland from releasing natural steroid hormones in response to stress, thereby leading to a calmer temperament.
University of Florida researchers recently studied Quarter Horse weaklings to map the genes for spooking behavior. All also experienced the same experimental setup: Once the weaklings were accustomed to being fed from a pan in a round pen, a researcher would pop open a brightly colored umbrella nearby while they ate.
A DNA sample submitted for genetic testing may help people decide if a young horse will be appropriate for their athletic endeavors.” Along similar lines, Ann Stagger, MS, PhD, a recent graduate of Brooks’ team, is conducting an ongoing experiment with Tennessee Walking Horses to map the genetics responsible for tractability and for willingness to load on a trailer.
Historically, breeders have had to rely on conformation and progeny performance records to predict a physical trait’s heritability. Advances in technology and gene identification have led to the availability of tests that help determine if the sire and/or dam has actually passed on specific genetic markers for performance.
With potentially better odds of acquiring a highly talented horse, there has been much interest in identifying genetic variables that impact racing performance. Ernest Bailey, PhD, professor at the University of Kentucky’s Maxwell H. Luck Equine Research Center, in Lexington, is involved with The Horse Genome Project.
Practically applied, looking at pedigrees of Thoroughbreds that excel as 2-year-olds in elite middle-distance (8- to 12-furlong, with a furlong being 18 mile) races, common sires include great 20th-century stallion PARECO and his sons Ne arctic, Abdullah, and Royal Charger. Researchers have noted a positive correlation between Thoroughbred racehorse height (and leg length) with earnings.
Scientists have now identified a link between height and the respiratory condition recurrent laryngeal neuropathy (Run, or “roaring”) in Thoroughbred racehorses and in draft horses. In a 2014 study out of Michigan State University, the authors demonstrated “a significant association of Run with the LC ORL /NC APG locus (the position of a gene on a chromosome) on equine chromosome 3 previously shown to affect body size in horses.” This same location is known to have a significant effect on Thoroughbred withers height.
“Those that are nearby to one another will tend to stay together and aren’t often separated by the process of recombination,” which produces offspring with combinations of traits different from those found in either parent. These are only a few of the current projects geneticists are working on involving equine athletic ability, coat color, and behavior.
Vaccines have become an essential part of health programs in most countries worldwide to control emerging or resurfacing diseases. Photo by Sarah Olive on Unsplash Horses are often used as models to test human vaccines, especially those intended for the elderly, because of the animal's longevity, but its use in that regard is limited.
They have been proven as great models for bacterial infections like clostridium charcoal, a soil-borne bacteria that causes blackleg in humans and animals. Photo by Shaman Shay on UnsplashMonkeys have been used in scientific research for decades, often bred in captivity for the production and testing of vaccines.
Bred in captivity, these monkeys had fewer viral infections than captured primates and provided clean cell cultures that could be grown. Rhesus macaque monkeys can also produce neutralizing antibodies against a strain of HIV called the Tier 2 virus, and though the vaccine has not begun clinical trials yet, scientists are hopeful for its success.
Researchers at Beijing-based SICOVAL Biotech gave doses of the vaccine to eight macaques and three weeks later introduced the SARS-CoV-2 into their lungs, and none broke out in full-blown infection. Currently, the small rodents are being used as subjects in an immunotherapy-based cancer vaccine, which involves injecting two immune-boosting agents directly into tumors in mice.
The results in mice have shown vaccines could be promising for women carrying the BRCA1 and Bra 2 gene mutations, who are at a higher risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer. Photo by vaun0815 on UnsplashLike mice, rats are often used to test medical breakthroughs and have been the subjects for cancer treatments for years.
They have been used in studies on mucosal immunization against antigens and pathogens that enter through mucous membranes that line the mouth, nose, eyelids, trachea (windpipe), lungs, stomach, intestines, ureters, urethra, and bladder. Pigs also have tonsils and their skin's dermis-to-epidermis ratio is similar to humans, making them a viable medical test subject.
Human and bovine T-cells recognize similar proteins in RSV and BRS, meaning potential vaccines can be tested in cattle. Early bacteriologists mimicked the human body environment by creating solutions of sugars, salts, and meat extracts, which would help grow bacteria and viruses in the lab.
Though many discoveries since have leaned toward synthetic vaccines, some still require nutrients that are provided most easily from animal products like serum, blood, amino acids, and sugars. Viral vaccines require living cells for production, and their growth is often aided by fetal calf serum.
Screened for strict criteria, only 20 videos ended up meeting the team’s requirements: showing animals freely playing on their own, without human interference, for at least 30 seconds. Despite millions of years of evolution between them, the two species seemed to take the same basic approach to frivolity, suggesting that they’d found common ground for the sole purpose of fun, Palace tells Inside Science.
It's a study that produced a thousand “long face” puns: Scientists have found that horses have specific facial expressions, and they're very similar to ours. They found a wide range of facial expressions, many that are also seen in primates (like us) and dogs and cats.
As previous research shows, horses rely on facial expressions to communicate with one another, and they're predominantly visual creatures with strong eyesight. Horses are undoubtedly emotional animals,” author Jennifer Nathan told The Huffington Post.
Much of this use is to develop and test the safety and effectiveness of potential human medicines and vaccines. There is no question that they can experience pain and psychological distress as a result of experimental procedures and from the way they are bred, transported or housed.
According to the enclosed clipping from a vegetarian magazine, “The intestinal length of carnivores (meat-eating animals) is three times the body length to allow for quick removal of flesh wastes that putrefy in the intestines. Please, don't embarrass yourself by quoting that garbage from the National Beef Council that meat is our best source of protein.
There are some intelligent arguments for vegetarianism, but claiming that man is “naturally” herbivorous isn’t one of them. The settled judgment of science is that man is an omnivore, capable of eating both meat and vegetables, much as certain four-year-olds might like to convince their mothers otherwise.
Like the hard-core carnivores, we have fairly simple digestive systems well suited to the consumption of animal protein, which breaks down quickly. Herbivores also have a variety of specialized digestive organs capable of breaking down cellulose, the main component of plant tissue.
Humans find cellulose totally indigestible, and even plant eaters have to take their time with it. If you were a ruminant (cud eater), for instance, you might have a stomach with four compartments, enabling you to cough up last night’s alfalfa and chew on it all over again.
We’re equipped with an all-purpose set of ivories equally suited to liver and onions. But in the wild, much of the plant menu consists of leaves and stems, which are low in food value.
True herbivores have to spend much of the day scrounging for snacks just to keep their strength up. Of all animals, man’s digestive organs and teeth most closely resemble these apes.
The American Dietetic Association has acknowledged that vegetarians are less at risk for a number of chronic diseases, including heart disease, some types of cancer, obesity, high blood pressure, and adult-onset diabetes. Eating a healthy diet goes far beyond cutting back a bit on red meat.
To clarify a point that eluded many who wrote me about this: the issue is not whether vegetarianism is healthier, better for the planet, etc., than the standard U.S. diet. The common view among anthropologists, in fact, is that increased meat consumption was a key element in the development of human culture, since getting and distributing the stuff requires cooperation.
The climatologist Jane Goodall established more than 20 years ago that wild chimpanzees kill other animals once in a while and eat the meat with relish. It’s true chimps and other apes eat a mostly veggie diet, but for that matter so do most humans.
It’s had minimal impact on our ability to reproduce ourselves, which of course is the basis of natural selection. I am at a loss to know why vegetarians cannot be content simply to say it, without taking the argument over a cliff.
In reading through your column “Vegetarians Go Ape,” I noticed an unusual fact that you seemed to expose with great confidence. You stated that “Jane Goodall established more than twenty years ago that wild chimpanzees kill other animals once in a while and eat the meat with relish.” I question the accuracy of this.
Is it true Stanley and Livingston penetrated the darkest Africa wearing pith helmets because they knew they would find no plumbing there? SARS-CoV-2 likely originated in bats (scientists aren’t yet sure which species) and was transferred to humans by an intermediary host.
Since the pandemic started, a wide menagerie has been drafted into service, including mice, monkeys, cats, dogs, ferrets, chickens, and even horses. Many are being infected with SARS-CoV-2, contributing to research that can help scientists understand the body’s response, see whether various treatments are successful in easing symptoms and eliminating the virus, and eventually test vaccines.
Animal studies can also help narrow down what that intermediate host might have been, which could give us an edge in preventing future coronavirus outbreaks. Mice are inexpensive, plentiful, and easy to work with, making them good candidates for experimentation.
So at that time, a group of researchers at the University of Iowa genetically engineered a strain of mice to have the human version of the enzyme that coronaviruses use to sneak into cells, ACE2. In late February, scientists in China found that rhesus macaques were susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection; they even developed pneumonia-like symptoms.
But O’Connor and his collaborators at Madison wanted to know if it was possible to provoke reactions in macaques that more closely resembled severe human symptoms. “It’s a totally new virus, and that requires us to explore a variety of different models to best recreate what we’re trying to treat in humans,” O’Connor said.
So his group is using a pediatric bronchoscope, normally used to examine children's’ airways, to deposit the virus deep in the monkeys’ lungs. Keen van Rom pay, who leads the center’s work on infectious diseases, said the first step has been to develop a diagnostic test to make sure the lab’s 4,000 monkeys haven’t been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 unintentionally.
After that, a top priority is to infect around eight monkeys, allow some to recover, and then transfer their antibody-rich plasma to the others and see if it speeds their recovery. Still, the findings from monkeys strengthen the case for human plasma transfusion trials, which are now underway.
After a few weeks, all van Rom pay’s monkeys will be euthanized and their lungs, brains, and hearts studied in autopsies. Those tissues will then be shared with other labs around the country for further study, to minimize the number of monkeys involved, van Rom pay said.
Last week, Chinese scientists reported the results of their efforts to infect a range of domestic animals (including five three-month-old beagle puppies) that might have served as intermediary hosts. The company has successfully used that approach to produce treatments for botulism; horse antibodies have also long been used against diphtheria.