Horse genetics & color

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Thank god for animals and their resemblance to humans to elucidate general patterns and relationships. Missense Mutation in Exon 2 of SLC36A1 Responsible for Champagne Dilution in Horses:

The purpose of this study was to uncover the molecular basis for the champagne hair color dilution phenotype in horses. Here, we report a DNA base substitution in the second exon of the horse gene SLC36A1 that changes an amino acid in the transmembrane domain of the protein from threonine to arginine. The phenotypic effect of this base change is a diminution of hair and skin color intensity for both red and black pigment in horses, and the resulting dilution has become known as champagne. This is the first genetic variant reported for SLC36A1 and the first evidence for its effect on eye, skin, and hair pigmentation. So far, no other phenotypic effects have been attributed to this gene. This discovery of the base substitution provides a molecular test for horse breeders to test their animals for the Champagne gene (CH).

Is horse color a big deal in terms of value? I wonder what the reason why there are so many horse pigmentation papers as opposed to a cheaper multi-colored animal like dog or cat.

Related: White horses and blonde humans: a genetic connection? KITLG makes you whiter.

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  1. In Ireland horses of these color are referred to as Palomino

  2. The story about Eskimos having 100 words for snow has been debunked numerous times, but pastoral peoples have an enormous number of words for different sorts of livestock. Some of them are functional (ages and gender status) and many name significantly different breeds, but a lot of them just name patterns of hair color, etc. In far-off times these had ritual values, and even today a nice coloration can increase a horse’s value.  
    The culture of horses and dogs is a sort of weird archaic survival. Horse people today are country people, very rich people, and romantic but down-to-earth women. Guys with dating problems are well-advised to learn to ride, buy themselves a few quality riding horses and hang out in the right places.

  3. In two words: horse racing 
    There’s potentially a lot of money in a faster racehorse. A genetically modified horse wouldn’t be a Thoroughbred by definition, but better understanding of the genetics could help you decide which horses to mate naturally. I know of at least one university with a professor who specialises in horse genetics.