About our research
Our primary research focuses on understanding the genetic basis of complex traits in horses and other equids. Complex traits, such as athletic performance, disease, and behaviour tend to be influenced by multiple genes, which we study using state-of-the-art genomic techniques combined with a deep understanding of equine anatomy and physiology.
As genomics tools improve, they enable the design of more targeted studies relating genotypes to phenotypes and create opportunities to gain novel insight into the performance of horses. Working with collaborators from around the world, we investigate all aspects of equine performance with no breed or discipline considered too big or too small to explore.
Diseases and Disorders
Through utilisation of state-of-the-art genomic technologies, we are able to search the entire genome of individuals to rapidly identify genetic markers for heritable diseases. This information is then used to facilitate not only the development of genetic tests for disease, but also effective genomics based selection against disease susceptibility in horses and other equids.
Behavioural strategies and developed cognitive abilities are key factors in how horses manage everyday challenges. Trainability, competitiveness, fear, docility, and aggression all greatly influence health, performance, and overall quality of life. While much is known about the physiology and neuroanatomy of these emotions, little is known about their underlying genetics. Thus, our aim is to delve into all aspects of horse behaviour in an effort to gain a greater understanding of genes that are fundamentally important for specific equine behaviours.
As a result of thousands of ancestors and millions of years of evolution, countless characteristics are hidden in each horse’s genome. Although some individuals and breeds are more similar than others, every horse contains its own unique genetic code. This genetic diversity underpins the capacity of individuals, populations, and breeds to adapt to an ever changing world. With equine populations around the world facing disease epidemics, changing climates, and other environmental risks, maintaining sufficient genetic diversity could be the difference between survival and extinction for many equine breeds. As such, we capitalize on the latest genomic tools available to assess, monitor, and protect genetic diversity across a range of equine breeds.