Verifying, establishing and maintaining pedigree records for animals is an ancient practice that has had to keep up with changing technology. For Weatherbys Scientific, that means bringing cutting-edge genotyping-by-sequencing technology into this venerable field. Weatherbys Scientific established the first equine studbooks for the United Kingdom and Ireland in 1791 and has maintained them for the past two and a half centuries, guiding the careful line breeding of fine horses and helping their owners know the value of their stock. As Paul Flynn, the head of research and development, describes it, Weatherbys’ role is to “reassure integrity of pedigree verification using the technology of the time,” and the company has embraced new developments in animal genomics technologies to always stay on the cutting edge of pedigree verification.
For a while, the technology of the time included blood typing, microsatellite markers and single tandem repeats (STRs). Now, the next frontier in equine pedigree verification is making the transition from STRs to genotyping by sequencing (GBS) with single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers. “That’s where Weatherbys sits from a science perspective,” he explains, “and I’ve been part of that journey as well.”
From STRs to SNPs
As a 21st-century company with records going back to the 18th century, Weatherbys Scientific is “in a very privileged position to be able to leverage the current genome assemblies that exist across various species.” In their case, this means leveraging current equine genome assemblies in the form of EquCab 3.0. What Weatherbys needed was a way to verify sites and markers of interest to develop a more focused, lower-cost method for verifying equine pedigrees than whole-genome sequencing. To do this, they undertook exploratory studies using the Applied BiosystemsTM Axiom 670 Equine Genotyping Array, taking advantage of this array’s power to find the most important regions of variability. These would then become the basis of their Applied BiosystemsTM AgriSeq genotyping-by-sequencing panel, a far lower-cost tool that offers the information they need in a well-organized and focused form. Armed with this more focused tool, Weatherbys Scientific is well-positioned to remain an industry leader in equine studbook maintenance and pedigree analysis.
For more information about AgriSeq gene panels and other companion animal research products, click here. To contact us regarding AgriSeq products, click here. For Thermo Fisher Scientific’s agrigenomics brochure, click here.
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