Embark Veterinary Study Reveals Genetic Traits in Dog Coat and Color
BOSTON, April 12, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Embark Veterinary, a leader in dog genetics, today announced that the uniquely spotted coat of German Shorthair Pointers, Australian Cattle Dogs, and other breeds known as “roaning” is strongly associated with a genomic region on chromosome 38 and likely regulated by the usherin gene (USH2A). Results of the study were published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS One as R-locus for roaned coat is associated with a tandem duplication in an intronic region of USH2A in dogs and also contributes to Dalmatian spotting. Testing for this genetic trait is only available through Embark’s dog DNA tests.
In the study, researchers sought to uncover genetic variation in canine coat color and patterns. It was found that the tandem duplication of a small region of the USH2A gene is perfectly associated with roaning and absent from non-roaned dogs. Results show that roaning is a dominant trait in which one R allele is sufficient to cause roaning in dogs with unpigmented areas.
The results of this study may also shed light on the genetic origin of the Dalmatian’s unique spots. While historically, the spots on Dalmatians have been considered different from roaning patterns, all Dalmatians in the Embark study carried the duplication embedded in an identical stretch of DNA sequences in the same section of chromosome as roaned dogs..
“This type of genetic duplication has a huge impact in changing coat patterns and other phenotypic traits,” said Adam Boyko, Embark co-founder, Chief Science Officer, and a senior author of the study. “While educating and helping dog owners better understand their pups through our DNA kits is central to our business, we actively pursue novel research to make progress to deepen that knowledge. This roan finding is proof of that commitment.”
As part of its mission to improve the life and longevity of all dogs, Embark leveraged citizen science to collect phenotype data from tens of thousands of dog owners and apply it to the research efforts. Embark customers contributed to this study by choosing to provide photographs of their dogs to the platform, from which Embark classified their phenotypes as ticked, roaned, or lacking these patterns.
The novel discoveries are particularly helpful to breeders of hunting dogs because roaning in a dog’s coat offers natural camouflage. Additionally, roaned coat patterns are highly coveted by breeders, as the American Kennel Club (AKC) has listed roaned patterns as a preferred standard for certain breeds. Breeders can now plan for this result in their litters and better understand their existing pedigrees using Embark’s new test.
Moving forward, all of Embark’s Breed + Health Kits and Embark for Breeders Test Kits will include the results for roaning.
For more information on Embark’s products and additional research, visit here.
Embark Veterinary, Inc., a leader in dog genetics, launched in 2015 with a mission to improve the life and longevity of all dogs. An Embark Dog DNA Test allows pet parents and breeders to discover their dog’s breed, ancestry, and genetic health -- all with a simple cheek swab. Testing for over 350 breeds and 200+ health risks, Embark is the most comprehensive dog DNA test available. An official research partner of Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Embark is the only canine genetics company that uses a research-grade DNA genotyping platform and the only company capable of powering the next generation of canine genetic discovery. The company was founded by Adam and Ryan Boyko, two brothers with years of experience researching the origins of dogs and the impact of genetic diversity on canine health. For further information, visit Embark’s website at www.embarkvet.com, or follow Embark on Facebook.
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SOURCE Embark Vet