Have you ever wondered why some dogs have such a unique spotted coat? The officials of Embark Veterinary, a company specializing in canine genetics, may have the answer: gene duplication.
Specifically, the particularly spotty coat of dogs like German Shorthaired Pointers, Australian dogs and other breeds known as “roaning” is strongly associated with a genomic region on chromosome 38 and probably regulated by the gene. usherin (USH2A). The results of the study were recently published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS One. According to officials, testing for this genetic trait is only available through Embark’s dog DNA testing.
The discovery, officials said, could be of particular benefit to hunting dog breeders, as the roar in a dog’s coat provides natural camouflage.
“Additionally, roaned coat patterns are highly coveted by breeders because the American Kennel Club (AKC) has listed roaned patterns as the preferred standard for certain breeds,” the officials added. “Breeders can now plan this result into their litters and better understand their existing pedigrees using Emark’s new test. “
The study results could also shed light on the genetic origin of the Dalmatian’s unique spots, officials said. While historically the spots on Dalmatians were considered to be different from roaning patterns, all Dalmatians in the Embark study carried the duplication embedded in an identical sequence of DNA sequences in the same section of chromosome as the dogs. roaned, officials said.
“This type of genetic duplication has a huge impact on the evolution of coat patterns and other phenotypic traits,” said Adam Boyko, Emark co-founder, scientific director and lead author of the study. “While educating and helping dog owners to better understand their puppies through our DNA kits is at the heart of our business, we are actively pursuing new research to advance and deepen this knowledge. This discovery of roan is proof of this commitment.
Embark has leveraged citizen science to collect phenotype data from tens of thousands of dog owners and apply it to research efforts, officials said. Embark customers contributed to this study by choosing to provide photographs of their dogs to the platform, from which Embark classified their phenotypes as checked, wheeled or devoid of these patterns, officials added.
Going forward, all Embark’s Breed + Health and Embark for Breeders Test Kits will include roaning results, officials said.
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