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Inbreeding in the global thoroughbred population has risen significantly over the last 45 years and if left unchecked may compromise the future sustainability of the breed, according to research published in Scientific Reports.
For the study, scientists from University College Dublin and equine science company Plusvital analyzed the genomes of over 10,000 thoroughbreds. Their findings link the increase in inbreeding to the selection for favorable racing traits and the influence of popular sire lines.
% - Thoroughbreds - Study - Northern - Dancer
97% of the thoroughbreds analyzed in the study traced to Northern Dancer, while 35% of the European horses had Sadler's Wells in their pedigree, and 55% of the Australian horses had Danehill in their genetic line.
"Inbreeding has always been high in thoroughbreds, but it is getting higher," said Professor Emmeline Hill, Professor in Equine Genetics at the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science, who is also Chief Science Officer with Plusvital.
Thoroughbred - Market - Demand - Sire - Lines
"It is likely that, unchecked, inbreeding in the thoroughbred will continue to increase in a market where there is high demand for particular sire lines," added Professor Hill from the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science.
"The problem with inbreeding is that it can compromise overall population fertility and health."
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