It’s amazing how little we know about horse genetics today,’ says Massimo Delledonne, professor in the Department of Biotechnology at the University of Verona and director of Team Geneartis, a start-up created to offer services in the field of personalised genomics and DNA sequencing.
At Fieracavalli Verona, ‘Jumpingene’, a pilot study for the production of a genomic database of horses, comes onto the scene. “During these days, you will see our researchers walking around the halls of the Fair taking blood from about twenty horses present. The DNA of some of them will be sequenced on site, an operation that until a few years ago would not have been possible without specialised personnel, sophisticated and very expensive instruments,’ says Delledonne. “At the heart of the project is the study of DNA. By finding genetic variants, the characteristics of foals can be predicted without having to wait years for a horse to become a champion”.
The study involves dividing the horses into two groups, the champions and the non-samples, and studying their DNA. ‘By analysing the physical and genetic characteristics of the animals, we will be able to design programmes that can assess the foals’ characteristics. In practice, they help to skim them already at birth’.
For the ‘Jumpingenes’ project, 40 horses have already been sequenced. “Here at Fieracavalli we are studying the genome of Viking D’La Rousserie of Scuderia 1918, a champion with a strong personality and an incredible ability to jump even the most difficult obstacles, and on Sunday he will be competing.