Ten years of the horse reference genome: insights into equine biology, domestication and population dynamics in the post‐genome era
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1111/age.12857
The horse reference genome from the Thoroughbred mare Twilight has been available for a decade and, together with advances in genomics technologies, has led to unparalleled developments in equine genomics. At the core of this progress is the continuing improvement of the quality, contiguity and completeness of the reference genome, and its functional annotation. Recent achievements include the release of the next version of the reference genome (EquCab3.0) and generation of a reference sequence for the Y chromosome. Horse satellite-free centromeres provide unique models for mammalian centromere research. Despite extremely low genetic diversity of the Y chromosome, it has been possible to trace patrilines of breeds and pedigrees and show that Y variation was lost in the past approximately 2300 years owing to selective breeding. The high-quality reference genome has led to the development of three different SNP arrays and WGSs of almost 2000 modern individual horses. The collection of WGS of hundreds of ancient horses is unique and not available for any other domestic species. These tools and resources have led to global population studies dissecting the natural history of the species and genetic makeup and ancestry of modern breeds. Most importantly, the available tools and resources, together with the discovery of functional elements, are dissecting molecular causes of a growing number of Mendelian and complex traits. The improved understanding of molecular underpinnings of various traits continues to benefit the health and performance of the horse whereas also serving as a model for complex disease across species.