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Journal of Animal Science Abstract - Quantitative Genetics

Quantitative genetic aspects of coat color in horses1


This article in

  1. Vol. 84 No. 10, p. 2623-2628
    Received: Dec 08, 2005
    Accepted: May 21, 2006
    Published: December 8, 2014

    2 Corresponding author(s):

  1. Z. Toth*,
  2. M. Kaps†2,
  3. J. Sölkner,
  4. I. Bodo* and
  5. I. Curik
  1. University of Debrecen, Faculty of Agriculture, Department of Animal Breeding and Nutrition, Debrecen, Hungary 4032;
    University of Zagreb, Faculty of Agriculture, Department of Animal Science, Zagreb, Croatia 10000; and
    BOKU-University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Department of Sustainable Agricultural Systems, Vienna, Austria 1180


The aim of this study was to estimate genetic parameters for coat color in horses. Besides defining coat color classes (gray, chestnut, bay, and black), the phenotypes were also measured quantitatively according to standardized international procedures (Commission Internationale de l’Eclairage L*, a*, b*), where L* describes lightness, a* describes color saturation from red to green, and b* describes color saturation from yellow to blue. The total color saturation was derived from a* and b* and referred to as Chroma. A total of 294 horses from the breeds Lipizzan, Nonius, Arabian Pure Bred, Shagya Arabian, and Gidran were measured at neck, shoulder, and belly. Heritabilities (within and between breeds or color classes) and repeatabilities were estimated using REML from univariate animal models defined separately for gray and nongray horses. For gray horses, the estimated within-breed heritabilities for L* ranged from 0.45 to 0.49 and for a*, b*, and Chroma from 0.09 to 0.52, indicating moderate polygenic effect. For nongray horses, between-color class heritabilities were high (0.70 to 0.85) and within-color class heritabilities were negligible (except for L* measured on neck and belly, 0.21 and 0.34, respectively). Additionally, the importance of L* was described by the relation with the total melanin content of horse coat hair; for gray and nongray horses, a strong negative linear relationship was detected (P < 0.01). The spectrometric measures and the results of this study demonstrate a possible approach to the estimation of the polygenic component involved in coat color inheritance.

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