Friday, January 26, 2024

Shaping Race Horses with Key Genes

In the 2022 Article by University College Dublin on Phys Org, it states that artificial selection is the identification by humans of desirable traits in plants and animals. It appeals to humans as it is fast, allowing them to mold organisms to fit their needs. In recent years, a critical set of genes linked to successful racehorses has been identified by an international research team.

In their testing, the scientists compared the genomes of multiple different breeds of horses bred for sports. What they found was that they were able to pinpoint the set of genes that played a major role in the muscle, metabolism, and neurobiology of successful race horses. The researchers used gene expression data from skeletal muscle from thoroughbred horses to investigate if the genes they had identified were involved in the muscle response to exercise and training. By integrating the two data sets of the different breeds of horses. They are now able to fine-tune the list of racing genes to those that were most biologically relevant to racing. One of these genes is NTM which functions the brain development and influences learning and memory, which is a key role in determining whether the horse ever races. 

It is very interesting to see how science has progressed over the years and how it has allowed humans to shape the genes of animals for our own benefit. Although I believe that one should use their knowledge and resources to shape the best result, I am wondering how the use of artificial selection will shape the racing industry. How is the industry going to look in the future when everyone is producing winners?  



  1. Artificial selection of horses will definitely change the horse racing industry. Those who make a living by raising and racing these horses will artificially select desired genetic traits to produce muscular, fast horses. Even changing their brain development may increase their effectiveness. This will also create a boom in the sports betting industry as people who know these horses have been genetically selected may choose them over naturally bred racing horses that we see now.

  2. This is such an interesting topic! The artificial selection of thoroughbred racehorses will definitely change the racehorse industry. It is especially interesting that instead of looking at the physical traits they also looked into and took into consideration the neurobiology of these horses.
    Since I have personally owned thoroughbred horses off the track, I know that many if not all thoroughbreds who were on the track and/or bred for racing were inbred at some point throughout their bloodlines. Some are much more than others.
    I wonder if it was ever considered that the inbreeding of these thoroughbreds might affect their neurobiology and physical response which they are trying to alter.