The horse genome derby: racing from map to whole genome sequence.
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The map of the horse genome has undergone unprecedented expansion during the past six years. Beginning from a modest collection of approximately 300 mapped markers scattered on the 31 pairs of autosomes and the X chromosome in 2001, today the horse genome is among the best-mapped in domestic animals. Presently, high-resolution linearly ordered gene maps are available for all autosomes as well as the X and the Y chromosome. The approximately 4350 mapped markers distributed over the approximately 2.68 Gbp long equine genome provide on average 1 marker every 620 kb. Among the most remarkable developments in equine genome analysis is the availability of the assembled sequence (EquCab2) of the female horse genome and the generation approximately 1.5 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from diverse breeds. This has triggered the creation of new tools and resources like the 60K SNP-chip and whole genome expression microarrays that hold promise to study the equine genome and transcriptome in ways not previously envisaged. As a result of these developments it is anticipated that, during coming years, the genetics underlying important monogenic traits will be analyzed with improved accuracy and speed. Of larger interest will be the prospects of dissecting the genetic component of various complex/multigenic traits that are of vital significance for equine health and welfare. The number of investigations recently initiated to study a multitude of such traits hold promise for improved diagnostics, prevention and therapeutic approaches for horses.