Test Identifies Equine Embryos Carrying Genetic DefectsBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · May 4, 2012
Research at Texas A&M University has led to the development of a technique to identify defective genes in embryos as early as seven days after fertilization. At this stage, embryos showing signs of genetic disease can be destroyed and the mare can be rebred, saving a breeding season and eliminating the birth of a foal affected by HYPP, HERDA, or another abnormality.
Mares and stallions can be carriers of various genetic diseases, though they may never show signs of a problem. Genetic testing can reveal that these mature horses have the defective genetic profile. Their offspring may be affected by the disease, may be carriers that don’t show disease signs, or can be normal foals that don’t carry the disease genes.
By flushing an embryo from a mare after breeding but before the embryo becomes implanted in the uterus, researchers can remove enough genetic material to identify defects or prove that the embryo is not affected and will produce a normal foal. The embryo can then be replaced in the mare, the pregnancy will continue, and the foal will be born after a normal gestation.