Effects of the DMRT3 gene differ between racing breeds
The Swedish-Norwegian Coldblooded trotter (CBT) is a local horse breed in Sweden and Norway mainly used for harness racing. Previous studies have shown that a mutation from cytosine (C) to adenine (A) in the doublesex and mab-3 related transcription factor 3 (DMRT3) gene has a major impact on harness racing performance of different breeds. An association of the DMRT3 mutation with early career performance has also been suggested.
The aim of the current study was to investigate this proposed association in a randomly selected group of CBTs. 769 CBTs (485 raced, 284 unraced) were genotyped for the DMRT3 mutation. The association with racing performance was investigated for 13 performance traits and three different age intervals: 3 years, 3 to 6 years, and 7 to 10 years of age, using the statistical software R. Each performance trait was analyzed for association with DMRT3 using linear models.
The results suggest no association of the DMRT3 mutation with precocity (i.e. performance at 3 years of age). Only two traits (race time and number of disqualifications) were significantly different between the genotypes, with AA horses having the fastest times and CC horses having the highest number of disqualifications at 3 years of age. The frequency of the AA genotype was significantly lower in the raced CBT sample compared with the unraced sample and less than 50% of the AA horses participated in a race. For the age intervals 3 to 6 and 7 to 10 years the AA horses also failed to demonstrate significantly better performance than the other genotypes.
Although suggested as the most favorable genotype for racing performance in Standardbreds and Finnhorses across all ages, the AA genotype does not appear to be associated with superior performance, early or late, in the racing career of CBTs.
The study was partly financed by The Swedish-Norwegian Foundation for Equine Research.
Link to the publication
Jäderkvist Fegraeus K, Lawrence C, Petäjistö K, Johansson MK, Wiklund M, et al. (2017) Lack of significant associations with early career performance suggest no link between the DMRT3 "Gait Keeper" mutation and precocity in Coldblooded trotters. PLOS ONE 12(5): e0177351.