The horse provided humankind with the ability to travel well above its own speed and changed the face of warfare, and the geographic expansion of people, languages and culture. As such, the domestication of the horse some 5,500 years ago represents not less than a turning point in human history. While domestication shaped a great diversity of horse phenotypes, fit for a wealth of human purpose, many of the underlying causative genetic variants, and the geographic and temporal locus of their associated native breeding centers remain unclear. The HOPE project is aimed at the identification and functional validation of genetic innovations that have accompanied the birth and spread of important phenotypic traits during the history of modern domestic horses. Our methodology will leverage state-of-the-art methodologies in two complementary research fields, each synergizing the core expertise of the supervising host and postdoctoral fellow. These will first consist of using the ancient DNA and population genomics toolkits for shortlisting genomic variants candidates for driving important phenotypic features, and second harnessing the full power of functional genomics to measure some of their biological mechanism in cellular. The HOPE project will, thus, fill an important gap in our knowledge of horse evolution and will mark the birth of a new era in archeo-genomics, moving away from the sole description of putative adaptive markers, currently limiting most common studies, to the investigation of the conformational, performance, physiological and medical in living animals.
Fields of science
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