Origin and spread of Thoroughbred racehorses inferred from complete mitochondrial genome sequences: Phylogenomic and Bayesian coalescent perspectives

PLoS One. 2018 Sep 14;13(9):e0203917. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0203917. eCollection 2018.

Abstract

The Thoroughbred horse breed was developed primarily for racing, and has a significant contribution to the qualitative improvement of many other horse breeds. Despite the importance of Thoroughbred racehorses in historical, cultural, and economical viewpoints, there was no temporal and spatial dynamics of them using the mitogenome sequences. To explore this topic, the complete mitochondrial genome sequences of 14 Thoroughbreds and two Przewalski's horses were determined. These sequences were analyzed together along with 151 previously published horse mitochondrial genomes from a range of breeds across the globe using a Bayesian coalescent approach as well as Bayesian inference and maximum likelihood methods. The racing horses were revealed to have multiple maternal origins and to be closely related to horses from one Asian, two Middle Eastern, and five European breeds. Thoroughbred horse breed was not directly related to the Przewalski's horse which has been regarded as the closest taxon to the all domestic horses and the only true wild horse species left in the world. Our phylogenomic analyses also supported that there was no apparent correlation between geographic origin or breed and the evolution of global horses. The most recent common ancestor of the Thoroughbreds lived approximately 8,100-111,500 years ago, which was significantly younger than the most recent common ancestor of modern horses (0.7286 My). Bayesian skyline plot revealed that the population expansion of modern horses, including Thoroughbreds, occurred approximately 5,500-11,000 years ago, which coincide with the start of domestication. This is the first phylogenomic study on the Thoroughbred racehorse in association with its spatio-temporal dynamics. The database and genetic history information of Thoroughbred mitogenomes obtained from the present study provide useful information for future horse improvement projects, as well as for the study of horse genomics, conservation, and in association with its geographical distribution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild / classification
  • Animals, Wild / genetics
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Breeding
  • Domestication
  • Equidae / classification
  • Equidae / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Female
  • Genome, Mitochondrial
  • Horses / classification
  • Horses / genetics*
  • Male
  • Models, Genetic
  • Phylogeny
  • Phylogeography
  • Spatio-Temporal Analysis

Grant support

This work was carried out with the support of “Cooperative Research Program for Agriculture Science & Technology Development (Project No. PJ01040603)” Rural Development Administration, Republic of Korea.