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    ABSTRACT: For centuries, domestic horses have represented an important means of transport and served as working and companion animals. Although their role in transportation is less important today, many horse breeds are still subject to intense selection based on their pattern of locomotion. A striking example of such a selected trait is the ability of a horse to perform additional gaits other than the common walk, trot and gallop. Those could be four-beat ambling gaits, which are particularly smooth and comfortable for the rider, or pace, used mainly in racing. Gaited horse breeds occur around the globe, suggesting that gaitedness is an old trait, selected for in many breeds. A recent study discovered that a nonsense mutation in DMRT3 has a major impact on gaitedness in horses and is present at a high frequency in gaited breeds and in horses bred for harness racing. Here, we report a study of the worldwide distribution of this mutation. We genotyped 4396 horses representing 141 horse breeds for the DMRT3 stop mutation. More than half (2749) of these horses also were genotyped for a SNP situated 32 kb upstream of the DMRT3 nonsense mutation because these two SNPs are in very strong linkage disequilibrium. We show that the DMRT3 mutation is present in 68 of the 141 genotyped horse breeds at a frequency ranging from 1% to 100%. We also show that the mutation is not limited to a geographical area, but is found worldwide. The breeds with a high frequency of the stop mutation (>50%) are either classified as gaited or bred for harness racing. Introduction Few animals have been of such great value to humans as horses when it comes to means of transportation. All over the world, horses have been used for everyday transporta-tion, in military settings, cattle herding and agricultural power, pulling carriages and carts, pleasure riding or racing. Over the centuries, horse populations and breeds
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    ABSTRACT: For centuries, domestic horses have represented an important means of transport and served as working and companion animals. Although their role in transportation is less important today, many horse breeds are still subject to intense selection based on their pattern of locomotion. A striking example of such a selected trait is the ability of a horse to perform additional gaits other than the common walk, trot and gallop. Those could be four-beat ambling gaits, which are particularly smooth and comfortable for the rider, or pace, used mainly in racing. Gaited horse breeds occur around the globe, suggesting that gaitedness is an old trait, selected for in many breeds. A recent study discovered that a nonsense mutation in DMRT3 has a major impact on gaitedness in horses and is present at a high frequency in gaited breeds and in horses bred for harness racing. Here, we report a study of the worldwide distribution of this mutation. We genotyped 4396 horses representing 141 horse breeds for the DMRT3 stop mutation. More than half (2749) of these horses also were genotyped for a SNP situated 32 kb upstream of the DMRT3 nonsense mutation because these two SNPs are in very strong linkage disequilibrium. We show that the DMRT3 mutation is present in 68 of the 141 genotyped horse breeds at a frequency ranging from 1% to 100%. We also show that the mutation is not limited to a geographical area, but is found worldwide. The breeds with a high frequency of the stop mutation (>50%) are either classified as gaited or bred for harness racing.
    Animal Genetics 01/2014; · 2.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Determining the value of livestock breeds is essential to define conservation priorities, manage genetic diversity and allocate funds. Within- and between-breed genetic diversity need to be assessed to preserve the highest intra-specific variability. Information on genetic diversity and risk status is still lacking for many Creole cattle breeds from the Americas, despite their distinct evolutionary trajectories and adaptation to extreme environmental conditions. A comprehensive genetic analysis of 67 Iberoamerican cattle breeds was carried out with 19 FAO-recommended microsatellites to assess conservation priorities. Contributions to global diversity were investigated using alternative methods, with different weights given to the within- and between-breed components of genetic diversity. Information on Iberoamerican plus 15 worldwide cattle breeds was used to investigate the contribution of geographical breed groups to global genetic diversity. Overall, Creole cattle breeds showed a high level of genetic diversity with the highest level found in breeds admixed with zebu cattle, which were clearly differentiated from all other breeds. Within-breed kinships revealed seven highly inbred Creole breeds for which measures are needed to avoid further genetic erosion. However, if contribution to heterozygosity was the only criterion considered, some of these breeds had the lowest priority for conservation decisions. The Weitzman approach prioritized highly differentiated breeds, such as Guabala, Romosinuano, Cr. Patagonico, Siboney and Caracu, while kinship-based methods prioritized mainly zebu-related breeds. With the combined approaches, breed ranking depended on the weights given to the within- and between-breed components of diversity. Overall, the Creole groups of breeds were generally assigned a higher priority for conservation than the European groups of breeds. Conservation priorities differed significantly according to the weight given to within- and between-breed genetic diversity. Thus, when establishing conservation programs, it is necessary to also take into account other features. Creole cattle and local isolated breeds retain a high level of genetic diversity. The development of sustainable breeding and crossbreeding programs for Creole breeds, and the added value resulting from their products should be taken into consideration to ensure their long-term survival.
    Genetics Selection Evolution 09/2013; 45(1):35. · 3.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Variants in the EDNRB, KIT, MITF, PAX3 and TRPM1 genes are known to cause white spotting phenotypes in horses, which can range from the common white markings up to completely white horses. In this study, we investigated these candidate genes in 169 horses with white spotting phenotypes not explained by the previously described variants. We identified a novel missense variant, PAX3:p.Pro32Arg, in Appaloosa horses with a splashed white phenotype in addition to their leopard complex spotting patterns. We also found three novel variants in the KIT gene. The splice site variant c.1346+1G>A occurred in a Swiss Warmblood horse with a pronounced depigmentation phenotype. The missense variant p.Tyr441Cys was present in several part-bred Arabians with sabino-like depigmentation phenotypes. Finally, we provide evidence suggesting that the common and widely distributed KIT:p.Arg682His variant has a very subtle white-increasing effect, which is much less pronounced than the effect of the other described KIT variants. We termed the new KIT variants W18-W20 to provide a simple and unambiguous nomenclature for future genetic testing applications.
    Animal Genetics 05/2013; · 2.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Intense selective pressures applied over short evolutionary time have resulted in homogeneity within, but substantial variation among, horse breeds. Utilizing this population structure, 744 individuals from 33 breeds, and a 54,000 SNP genotyping array, breed-specific targets of selection were identified using an F(ST)-based statistic calculated in 500-kb windows across the genome. A 5.5-Mb region of ECA18, in which the myostatin (MSTN) gene was centered, contained the highest signature of selection in both the Paint and Quarter Horse. Gene sequencing and histological analysis of gluteal muscle biopsies showed a promoter variant and intronic SNP of MSTN were each significantly associated with higher Type 2B and lower Type 1 muscle fiber proportions in the Quarter Horse, demonstrating a functional consequence of selection at this locus. Signatures of selection on ECA23 in all gaited breeds in the sample led to the identification of a shared, 186-kb haplotype including two doublesex related mab transcription factor genes (DMRT2 and 3). The recent identification of a DMRT3 mutation within this haplotype, which appears necessary for the ability to perform alternative gaits, provides further evidence for selection at this locus. Finally, putative loci for the determination of size were identified in the draft breeds and the Miniature horse on ECA11, as well as when signatures of selection surrounding candidate genes at other loci were examined. This work provides further evidence of the importance of MSTN in racing breeds, provides strong evidence for selection upon gait and size, and illustrates the potential for population-based techniques to find genomic regions driving important phenotypes in the modern horse.
    PLoS Genetics 01/2013; 9(1):e1003211. · 8.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Horses were domesticated from the Eurasian steppes 5,000-6,000 years ago. Since then, the use of horses for transportation, warfare, and agriculture, as well as selection for desired traits and fitness, has resulted in diverse populations distributed across the world, many of which have become or are in the process of becoming formally organized into closed, breeding populations (breeds). This report describes the use of a genome-wide set of autosomal SNPs and 814 horses from 36 breeds to provide the first detailed description of equine breed diversity. F(ST) calculations, parsimony, and distance analysis demonstrated relationships among the breeds that largely reflect geographic origins and known breed histories. Low levels of population divergence were observed between breeds that are relatively early on in the process of breed development, and between those with high levels of within-breed diversity, whether due to large population size, ongoing outcrossing, or large within-breed phenotypic diversity. Populations with low within-breed diversity included those which have experienced population bottlenecks, have been under intense selective pressure, or are closed populations with long breed histories. These results provide new insights into the relationships among and the diversity within breeds of horses. In addition these results will facilitate future genome-wide association studies and investigations into genomic targets of selection.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(1):e54997. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) maintain spermatogenesis throughout a man's life and may have application for treating some cases of male infertility, including those caused by chemotherapy before puberty. We performed autologous and allogeneic SSC transplantations into the testes of 18 adult and 5 prepubertal recipient macaques that were rendered infertile with alkylating chemotherapy. After autologous transplant, the donor genotype from lentivirus-marked SSCs was evident in the ejaculated sperm of 9/12 adult and 3/5 prepubertal recipients after they reached maturity. Allogeneic transplant led to donor-recipient chimerism in sperm from 2/6 adult recipients. Ejaculated sperm from one recipient transplanted with allogeneic donor SSCs were injected into 85 rhesus oocytes via intracytoplasmic sperm injection. Eighty-one oocytes were fertilized, producing embryos ranging from four-cell to blastocyst with donor paternal origin confirmed in 7/81 embryos. This demonstration of functional donor spermatogenesis following SSC transplantation in primates is an important milestone for informed clinical translation.
    Cell stem cell 11/2012; 11(5):715-26. · 23.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Pigtailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina) provide an important model for biomedical research on human disease and for studying the evolution of primate behavior. The genetic structure of captive populations of pigtailed macaques is not as well described as that of captive rhesus (M. mulatta) or cynomolgus (M. fascicularis) macaques. The Washington National Primate Research Center houses the largest captive colony of pigtailed macaques located in several different housing facilities. Based on genotypes of 18 microsatellite (short tandem repeat [STR]) loci, these pigtailed macaques are more genetically diverse than captive rhesus macaques and exhibit relatively low levels of inbreeding. Colony genetic management facilitates the maintenance of genetic variability without compromising production goals of a breeding facility. The periodic introduction of new founders from specific sources to separate housing facilities at different times influenced the colony's genetic structure over time and space markedly but did not alter its genetic diversity significantly. Changes in genetic structure over time were predominantly due to the inclusion of animals from the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in the original colony and after 2005. Strategies to equalize founder representation in the colony have maximized the representation of the founders' genomes in the extant population. Were exchange of animals among the facilities increased, further differentiation could be avoided. The use of highly differentiated animals may confound interpretations of phenotypic differences due to the inflation of the genetic contribution to phenotypic variance of heritable traits. Am. J. Primatol. 74:1017-1027, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    American Journal of Primatology 07/2012; 74(11):1017-27. · 2.46 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: During fetal development neural-crest-derived melanoblasts migrate across the entire body surface and differentiate into melanocytes, the pigment-producing cells. Alterations in this precisely regulated process can lead to white spotting patterns. White spotting patterns in horses are a complex trait with a large phenotypic variance ranging from minimal white markings up to completely white horses. The "splashed white" pattern is primarily characterized by an extremely large blaze, often accompanied by extended white markings at the distal limbs and blue eyes. Some, but not all, splashed white horses are deaf. We analyzed a Quarter Horse family segregating for the splashed white coat color. Genome-wide linkage analysis in 31 horses gave a positive LOD score of 1.6 in a region on chromosome 6 containing the PAX3 gene. However, the linkage data were not in agreement with a monogenic inheritance of a single fully penetrant mutation. We sequenced the PAX3 gene and identified a missense mutation in some, but not all, splashed white Quarter Horses. Genome-wide association analysis indicated a potential second signal near MITF. We therefore sequenced the MITF gene and found a 10 bp insertion in the melanocyte-specific promoter. The MITF promoter variant was present in some splashed white Quarter Horses from the studied family, but also in splashed white horses from other horse breeds. Finally, we identified two additional non-synonymous mutations in the MITF gene in unrelated horses with white spotting phenotypes. Thus, several independent mutations in MITF and PAX3 together with known variants in the EDNRB and KIT genes explain a large proportion of horses with the more extreme white spotting phenotypes.
    PLoS Genetics 04/2012; 8(4):e1002653. · 8.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Archaeological and genetic evidence concerning the time and mode of wild horse (Equus ferus) domestication is still debated. High levels of genetic diversity in horse mtDNA have been detected when analyzing the control region; recurrent mutations, however, tend to blur the structure of the phylogenetic tree. Here, we brought the horse mtDNA phylogeny to the highest level of molecular resolution by analyzing 83 mitochondrial genomes from modern horses across Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas. Our data reveal 18 major haplogroups (A-R) with radiation times that are mostly confined to the Neolithic and later periods and place the root of the phylogeny corresponding to the Ancestral Mare Mitogenome at ~130-160 thousand years ago. All haplogroups were detected in modern horses from Asia, but F was only found in E. przewalskii--the only remaining wild horse. Therefore, a wide range of matrilineal lineages from the extinct E. ferus underwent domestication in the Eurasian steppes during the Eneolithic period and were transmitted to modern E. caballus breeds. Importantly, now that the major horse haplogroups have been defined, each with diagnostic mutational motifs (in both the coding and control regions), these haplotypes could be easily used to (i) classify well-preserved ancient remains, (ii) (re)assess the haplogroup variation of modern breeds, including Thoroughbreds, and (iii) evaluate the possible role of mtDNA backgrounds in racehorse performance.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 02/2012; 109(7):2449-54. · 9.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Genetic diversity in and relationships among 26 Creole cattle breeds from 10 American countries were assessed using 19 microsatellites. Heterozygosities, F-statistics estimates, genetic distances, multivariate analyses and assignment tests were performed. The levels of within-breed diversity detected in Creole cattle were considerable and higher than those previously reported for European breeds, but similar to those found in other Latin American breeds. Differences among breeds accounted for 8.4% of the total genetic variability. Most breeds clustered separately when the number of pre-defined populations was 21 (the most probable K value), with the exception of some closely related breeds that shared the same cluster and others that were admixed. Despite the high genetic diversity detected, significant inbreeding was also observed within some breeds, and heterozygote excess was detected in others. These results indicate that Creoles represent important reservoirs of cattle genetic diversity and that appropriate conservation measures should be implemented for these native breeds in order to minimize inbreeding and uncontrolled crossbreeding.
    Animal Genetics 02/2012; 43(1):2-10. · 2.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Totipotent cells in early embryos are progenitors of all stem cells and are capable of developing into a whole organism, including extraembryonic tissues such as placenta. Pluripotent cells in the inner cell mass (ICM) are the descendants of totipotent cells and can differentiate into any cell type of a body except extraembryonic tissues. The ability to contribute to chimeric animals upon reintroduction into host embryos is the key feature of murine totipotent and pluripotent cells. Here, we demonstrate that rhesus monkey embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and isolated ICMs fail to incorporate into host embryos and develop into chimeras. However, chimeric offspring were produced following aggregation of totipotent cells of the four-cell embryos. These results provide insights into the species-specific nature of primate embryos and suggest that a chimera assay using pluripotent cells may not be feasible.
    Cell 01/2012; 148(1-2):285-95. · 31.96 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Ketamine is an N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist that is used in anesthetic, abuse, and therapeutic contexts. Recent evidence suggests that ketamine may affect not only glutamate systems, but may also act on receptors in the dopamine and serotonin systems. Because monoamine neurotransmitters play important trophic roles in prenatal development, we hypothesized that the behavioral consequences of prenatal exposure to ketamine may be moderated by genotype of the promoter in the monoamine oxidase-A (MAOA) gene. Eighty-two infant rhesus monkeys were identified that had known dates of conception and exposures to ketamine during gestation. Animals were tested at 3-4 months of age on a battery of tests assessing responsiveness to maternal separation, recognition memory, and contact with novel objects. Animals were classified by putative activity levels for the MAOA genotype. The effects of prenatal ketamine exposure were seen only in the context of MAOA genotype. Greater exposure to ketamine resulted in increased activity, less willingness to perform in the memory task, and reduced emotionality and novel-object contact, but only for individuals with the low-activity genotype. Nearly all effects of ketamine were the result of first- and second-trimester exposure. MAOA genotype moderates the role of prenatal ketamine exposure at time points in gestation earlier than have been shown in past research, and is particularly evident for measures of emotionality. These results support the idea that ketamine's use might be best considered in light of individuals' genetic characteristics.
    Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology 01/2012; 20(3):173-80. · 2.55 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: An equine SNP genotyping array was developed and evaluated on a panel of samples representing 14 domestic horse breeds and 18 evolutionarily related species. More than 54,000 polymorphic SNPs provided an average inter-SNP spacing of ∼43 kb. The mean minor allele frequency across domestic horse breeds was 0.23, and the number of polymorphic SNPs within breeds ranged from 43,287 to 52,085. Genome-wide linkage disequilibrium (LD) in most breeds declined rapidly over the first 50-100 kb and reached background levels within 1-2 Mb. The extent of LD and the level of inbreeding were highest in the Thoroughbred and lowest in the Mongolian and Quarter Horse. Multidimensional scaling (MDS) analyses demonstrated the tight grouping of individuals within most breeds, close proximity of related breeds, and less tight grouping in admixed breeds. The close relationship between the Przewalski's Horse and the domestic horse was demonstrated by pair-wise genetic distance and MDS. Genotyping of other Perissodactyla (zebras, asses, tapirs, and rhinoceros) was variably successful, with call rates and the number of polymorphic loci varying across taxa. Parsimony analysis placed the modern horse as sister taxa to Equus przewalski. The utility of the SNP array in genome-wide association was confirmed by mapping the known recessive chestnut coat color locus (MC1R) and defining a conserved haplotype of ∼750 kb across all breeds. These results demonstrate the high quality of this SNP genotyping resource, its usefulness in diverse genome analyses of the horse, and potential use in related species.
    PLoS Genetics 01/2012; 8(1):e1002451. · 8.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Most genetic studies on modern cattle have established a common origin for all taurine breeds in the Near East, during the Neolithic transition about 10 thousand years (ka) ago. Yet, the possibility of independent and/or secondary domestication events is still debated and is fostered by the finding of rare mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroups like P, Q and R. Haplogroup T1, because of its geographic distribution, has been the subject of several investigations pointing to a possible independent domestication event in Africa and suggesting a genetic contribution of African cattle to the formation of Iberian and Creole cattle. Whole mitochondrial genome sequence analysis, with its proven effectiveness in improving the resolution of phylogeographic studies, is the most appropriate tool to investigate the origin and structure of haplogroup T1. A survey of >2200 bovine mtDNA control regions representing 28 breeds (15 European, 10 African, 3 American) identified 281 subjects belonging to haplogroup T1. Fifty-four were selected for whole mtDNA genome sequencing, and combined with ten T1 complete sequences from previous studies into the most detailed T1 phylogenetic tree available to date. Phylogenetic analysis of the 64 T1 mitochondrial complete genomes revealed six distinct sub-haplogroups (T1a-T1f). Our data support the overall scenario of a Near Eastern origin of the T1 sub-haplogroups from as much as eight founding T1 haplotypes. However, the possibility that one sub-haplogroup (T1d) arose in North Africa, in domesticated stocks, shortly after their arrival from the Near East, can not be ruled out. Finally, the previously identified "African-derived American" (AA) haplotype turned out to be a sub-clade of T1c (T1c1a1). This haplotype was found here for the first time in Africa (Egypt), indicating that it probably originated in North Africa, reached the Iberian Peninsula and sailed to America, with the first European settlers.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(6):e38601. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Source-filter theory provides a framework to interpret the acoustic structure of vertebrate vocalizations in relation to biophysical production, and it predicts that specific acoustic parameters can encode information about callers. Because formant frequencies are determined by vocal tract dimensions, with longer vocal tracts producing lower formants, they can be reliable indicators of body size, as well as other important traits. In polygynous species, reliable acoustic cues to fitness-related traits are expected to be under strong sexual selection pressure through male competition and/or female choice. This study investigates whether formant frequencies of male North American bison bellow vocalizations encode information about fitness-related caller attributes. Bison exhibit male-dominance female-defence polygyny, with dominance displays involving bellows. We hypothesized that physical attributes (mass, age) would predict formants and that formants would in turn predict quality indices (dominance, copulations, offspring sired). Our results showed that heavier bulls produced lower formants and that lower formants predicted higher mating success (copulations), even when controlling for mass. Given positive associations between mating success, dominance and reproductive success (offspring sired) in bison, we conclude that bellows with lower formants reflect greater fitness in bulls. We discuss the importance of reliable acoustic cues to size and quality indices in sexual selection contexts. Acoustic signals can be sexually selected if they generate infor-mation about the signaller that enables the signaller or receivers to increase their reproductive success in the context of mate compe-tition or mate choice (Andersson 1994; Espmark et al. 2000). The information contained in these signals can include the caller's competitive ability, quality, condition, motivation or sexual recep-tivity (Bradbury & Vehrencamp 1998). The accuracy or 'honesty' of the information within these signals can be maintained if the signal is costly to produce (Zahavi 1975; Grafen 1990; Zahavi & Zahavi 1997; Vehrencamp 2000) or is controlled by physiological constraints that cannot be faked (Vehrencamp 2000; Fitch & Hauser 2002). The 'source-filter theory' of vocal production examines the causal links between the constraints of vocal anatomy, the physics of sound production and propagation and the specific acoustic properties of the resultant signal (Fant 1960; Titze 1994). Increasingly, this theory has been applied to studies of nonhuman mammal vocalizations, resulting in significant advances for animal communication research (reviewed in Taylor & Reby 2010). The source-filter theory examines vocal production in two independent stages (Fant 1960). In the first stage (the source), air is forced from the lungs through the larynx to create a glottal wave from vocal fold vibrations. This glottal wave (source signal) contains a fundamental frequency with integer multiple harmonics that initially determines the pitch of the voiced signal. In the second stage (the filter), the glottal wave passes through the supralaryngeal vocal tract, which acts as a resonance filter on the wave by selec-tively amplifying or attenuating certain frequencies. This filtering process creates 'formants' or amplified resonant frequency bands within the signal, visible as peaks in the spectral envelope (Titze 1994). The source-filter theory predicts that reliable and indica-tive information about the caller can be generated independently in both the source (typically as fundamental frequency-related parameters) and the filter (typically as formant frequencies). The acoustic properties of these source-filter signals can potentially provide receivers with specific information about the caller, including measures of identity, sex, size, quality, condition,
    Animal Behaviour 01/2012; · 3.07 Impact Factor

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