Wednesday, October 24, 2012

DNA and mtDNA in Equine Studies

mtDNA as shown by electron microscope
DNA is the hereditary material passed down from generation to generation.  Most DNA is located in the nucleus of the cell.  In the nuclear DNA of the horse, 32 chromosomes come from the sire and 32 from the dam. However, Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is located in mitochondria which are that part of the cell that converts energy from food directly into a form that the cell can use. 
MtDNA is highly mutatable and evolves frequently over time.  In horses and most organisms, mtDNA is inherited from the mother so that researchers can study changes in a species over time and the evolutionary relations between and among organisms.  (Arabian Horse Society, 2011)  Research using mtDNA enables scientists to provide additional information about the evolution of equines and the relationships among equine breeds.

Check the posts for the next few days to see the results of recent mtDNA research into the origin of the Icelandic horse.
Arabian Horse Association (2011) Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) – What Is It and What Does It Tell Us.  Provided by the AHA Equine Stress, Research and Education Subcommittee on Genetic Disorders. 

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