KFPS topic meeting: The Friesian horse working on a genetic management plan

KFPS, in collaboration with Wageningen University & Research and Dr. van Haeringen Laboratorium created a database containing DNA information and the status of genetic defects in the population to develop a genetic management plan. The aim of this plan is to select against genetic defects, to prevent new defects and at the same time to preserve genetic diversity, as became clear at the first substantive meeting on Thursday 17 November in Leeuwarden.

DNA identification in foals born next year

About 150 KFPS members came to Leeuwarden where chairs were added to receive interested members for an explanation of the “Friesian Horse Conservation” research. KFPS President Tinky Shocker opened the evening “We have the same goal and the same charity: the Friesian horse”. “We hope to take that step tonight.” The first substantive meeting began with a presentation of the research KFPS wants to begin next year with a comprehensive DNA profiling of an estimated 3,200 foals born.

Genetic bottleneck: loss of variance

Researchers at Wageningen University, Bart Duchrow and Mariej Steinsma, revealed the plans and background. The Friesian horse has greatly decreased in size several times in the past, followed by a growth in population. These are the so-called genetic bottlenecks, which have reduced genetic variation, says Mariej Steinsma, who has a brood of Friesian with her father. “We also have an interest in this research on the Friesian horse.”

Combined with the closed character of the book of horses and the extensive use of a limited number of popular stallions, past and present, there is an excessive increase in inbreeding and the risk of genetic defects. “The increase in inbreeding is currently between 0.5 and 1%, which is below the 1% limit, which the Food and Agriculture Organization considers ‘risky.’ However, the increase in inbreeding is still high and there is a risk of genetic defects,” says Marege. , which cited aortic rupture and esophageal paralysis as examples, but also touched on gastric rupture and reduced fertility. Every human and every animal has ~3% errors in genes. This is not a problem if the parents are not related, but once related parents mate, there is inbreeding and a chance That the same errors are inherited.This can lead to the occurrence of genetic defects.

Search in America

With a number of genetic problems it appears to be a connective tissue problem, or a collagen problem. In America, the Fenway Foundation and the University of Kentucky are conducting research on this matter. The research by Wageningen UR focuses on mapping the ‘genetic map’ of the Friesian horse in order to clarify the status, frequency and relationships of current genetic diversity and genetic defects. However, finding “simple” DNA tests such as hydrocephalus and dwarfism genes is not counterintuitive, Marege noted. With this DNA test, we can avoid high-risk matings and carrier horses can still be used for breeding. For other genetic defects, such as esophageal dilatation, genetic background research by the Fenway Foundation and the University of Kentucky is still in progress. “It may be more challenging because we don’t yet know whether it is inherited via a single gene or whether multiple genes play a role.”

Unique search globally

KFPS will ask its members to agree to include DNA testing for all foals from 2023. The research will focus on four steps. With the so-called 80K SNP test, in which 80,000 base pairs are read on the genome to determine genetic diversity, followed by the development of a strain-specific reference genome. “The Friesian horse is unlike any other horse,” Marie explained. It is important to have your own ‘template’ to compare other genomes of individual Friesian horses. This is a unique research in the world. There are more varieties that suffer from genetic defects, but they do not yet have research to solve this problem and thus maintain genetic diversity.
The third step in the research is to uncover potentially lethal hidden mutations, that is, deformities in which animals are not viable, such as rejected foals. “The more animals we genotype with the 80K SNP test, the greater the chance that we will find something,” Marig added, noting that with all this information, frequencies and relationships of known and hidden defects can be mapped. “This allows you to prioritize based on severity and frequency, while preserving genetic diversity.” Is pure breed still possible? I asked the question. “That is certainly the goal, but we also ask the question of what hybridization might contribute to, is it a choice.”

Three Dutch encounters and three abroad

After the first meeting in Leeuwarden, another meeting in Zwolle and another in Eindhoven will follow next week. In addition, foreign members will receive the presentation in English and German via live broadcast. Ultimately, the Council of Members will have to approve the plans on Friday, November 25.

Meetings in Zwolle and Eindhoven can still be joined. Registration is required via the office (0513 523888) or email: evelinevankooten@kfps.nl

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