Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search

 


DNA analysis of a horseracing legend

DNA analysis of a horseracing legend

26 June 2013

A new chapter in the story of Phar Lap is about to be added by the University of Sydney as it leads an attempt to sequence the famous horse’s DNA.

“Phar Lap’s heart is in Canberra, his hide is in Melbourne, and his skeleton in the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Now the museum has agreed to a 60 mg piece of tooth from that skeleton coming to Sydney so we can unravel his genetic history,” said Dr Natasha Hamilton, the team leader from the University’s Faculty of Veterinary Science. Professor Claire Wade, also from the Faculty, will be in charge of the genetic analysis.

The DNA extraction will be performed at the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD), at the University of Adelaide, before being analysed at the University of Sydney.

“We are doing this out of scientific curiosity and all our data will be made publicly available. The DNA sequence will tell us if Phar Lap’s genetic make-up looks like star racehorses of today, including whether he is a sprinter or a stayer (genetically better suited to running long distances),” Dr Hamilton said.

“We believe that no other southern hemisphere racehorses have had their whole genome sequenced before. By contrast, in Europe this research is quite popular and DNA analysis has been performed on notable horses such as Eclipse, racing’s first superstar and an ancestor of 95 percent of today’s thoroughbreds, and Hyperion, a popular sire from the 1930-50s who is found in numerous pedigrees.”

The information will be used in current Faculty of Veterinary Science research such as international studies to understand the basis of genetic diversity in different breeds of horses, the structure of the thoroughbred breed and the genetics underlying the physiology of exercise across all horse species.

The skeleton was treated by being boiled in a corrosive solution which will have fragmented the DNA.

“There is a possibility that we will not be able to get much usable DNA, as they were obviously not thinking about the possibility of future DNA extraction when they prepared Phar Lap’s skeleton in the 1930s,” said Professor Alan Cooper, ACAD Director.

Professor Claire Wade said that despite this limitation current whole genome sequencing methods can work with small pieces of DNA, so the researchers are hopeful they will be able to generate usable information.

The fragmentation of the DNA also means it would not be usable in other projects that require large amounts of good quality DNA such as cloning.

“So, sorry punters, there is no hope of Phar Lap II running around a few years from now,” Dr Hamilton said.

This is not Phar Lap’s first association with the University of Sydney. According to research quoted by Museum Victoria the horse was named by Aubrey Ping, a medical student at the University in the 1920s.

ends


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 

TV3 Video: NZ Praised For Sportsmanship After Cricket World Cup Final Loss

New Zealand may have been outplayed in the Cricket World Cup final by Australia, but received praise worldwide for their graciousness in defeat. More>>

ALSO:

Earlier:

Werewolf: Finding Love In Hell

Will it really be 25 years in May since David Lynch’s Wild at Heart won big at Cannes, nabbing no less than the Palme d’Or? Amazing but true, and yet the film that was briefly Lynch’s most feted, now seems to be his most forgotten. More>>

ALSO:

Cricket: Dramatic Win Puts Black Caps In Finals

In Parliament: When Parliament resumed at 2pm the House passed a motion on a voice vote admiring the performance of the New Zealand cricket team in last night’s World Cup semi-final and wishing them well for the final on the weekend. More>>

ALSO:

Moon Shot/Kills Switch: The X Factor Judges Removed

MediaWorks has today decided that Natalia Kills and Willie Moon are no longer suitable to judge The X Factor and have removed them from the show. MediaWorks CEO, Mark Weldon, said that last night on The X Factor both Kills and Moon made comments that were completely unacceptable. More>>

ALSO:

Tessa Nichol: Up Up & Away In The Wairarapa

It’s an overcast morning in the Wairarapa but the mood on the ground in Carterton’s Carrington Park is anything but grey. More than 20 hot air balloons are getting ready to take off into the cloudy sky to mark the start of this year’s Wairarapa Balloon Festival. More>>

Golden Shears: Scotsman Wins Golden Shears Open Final

A Scottish shearer who settled in New Zealand to farm in Taranaki has become the first shearer from overseas to win the Golden Shears Open Shearing Championship. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Culture
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news