A potential regulatory region near the EDN3 gene may control both harness racing performance and coat color variation in horses. Kim Jäderkvist Fegraeus, Brandon D Velie, Jeanette Axelsson, et al. May 2018. Open access.
I wanted to start with this paper because while it was published two years ago, it provides an interesting look at how genetic research is done. In particular, it shows that science is a process. Understanding comes gradually, and papers are often published that do not give final, absolute answers. Instead, sometimes they just provide the next set of clues.
The other thing that is cool about this paper is that it illustrates another important aspect of research. Sometimes what you start out looking to find, and what the results give you, are different things. The possibility of unexpected outcomes is one of the best parts of research!
What Researchers Were Hoping to Find
Geneticists have been working to identify the genes that contribute to racing success. For this study, the researchers had a clever approach. They took a more recently developed racing breed, the Coldblooded Trotter (pictured above), and compared it to the draft breed used to create it, the North-Swedish, and a breed selected for the same purpose, the Standardbred. The idea was that areas that changed in the original population, and shared by the (mostly) unrelated racing breed, might influence racing ability.