Mongolian Horse Genome Sequenced

Inner Mongolia Agricultural University (IMAU) and BGI, the world's largest genomics organization, jointly announced Aug. 9 the complete sequencing of genomes of four important representative species in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China, including the Mongolian horse. The other species include the Mongolian sheep, Alxa Bactrian Camel, and the Mongolian cattle.

The first complete equine genome sequencing was completed in 2007. The horse whose DNA was used in the sequencing effort was a Thoroughbred mare named Twilight from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

The genome projects are highly valuable for the studies on genetic analysis of important economic traits in Mongolian characteristic species, such as fast breeding and reproduction, strong disease resistance, superior meat quality in animals produced for food, among others. The complete genomes also lay the important genomic foundation for further development in horse and livestock breeding. The four main species (the Mongolian horse, Mongolian sheep, Alxa Bactrian camel, and Mongolian cattle) are the most productive domestic livestock in Inner Mongolia. They are widely distributed throughout Inner Mongolia.

"Recognizing the importance of the four Mongolian livestock, we partnered with BGI to initiate this project one year ago," said Professor Huanmin Zhou, director of science and technology at IMAU, "The whole genome sequences are the basic gene resources for the further study on Mongolian species and also provide a critical foundation for the better understanding of their genetic traits and protecting the important germplasm resources in China.

"We will perform further comparative genomics and evolution analysis in order to find more scientific evidence to reveal the evolution process, geographical migration and ecological value of Mongolian species." said Zhou.

The genome project of Mongolian species is part of BGI's '1000 Plant and Animal Reference Genomes Project'. Ye Yin, director of research & cooperation division at BGI, congratulated the breakthrough in Mongolian species' genomes research: "Based on next-generation high-throughput sequencing technology and powerful bioinformatics platforms, BGI will do more work in this field and continue to promote the applications of genomics in agriculture."

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