Genome-Wide Scans Reveal a Quantitative Trait Locus for Withers Height in Horses Near the ANKRD1 Gene

Mohammed A. Al Abri, Christian Posbergh, Katelyn Palermo, Nathan B. Sutter, John Eberth, Gabriel E. Hoffman, Samantha A. Brooks*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Withers height is an important economic trait for the American Miniature Horses (AMHs) as the breeders’ primary objective is to produce small and proportionate animals. Identification of Quantitative Trait Loci (QTLs) affecting height in this breed will result in a better understanding of the genetic architecture and biological pathways contributing to skeletal development. In earlier work, we genotyped 48 horses from 16 different breeds that represent extremes in body size, using the Equine SNP50 bead chip (Illumina Inc). In this study, we applied a dominant model Genome-wide association study (GWAS), a genome-wide fixation index (FST) estimation, as well as a cross-population composite likelihood ratio (XP-CLR) test between the eight large and eight small breeds from this data set. Our GWAS implicated the marker at ECA1:37,676,322 bp, positioned within an intron of the ANKRD1 gene, was significantly associated with height variation. An XP-CLR scan further supported a role in height for the ECA1:37,676,322 bp locus and the FST analysis supported correlations to IGF2BP2 at ECA19:23,815,750. To confirm our findings, we genotyped the candidate loci in an independent set of 89 AMHs. This set verified that the locus at ANKRD1 gene indeed correlates to height under a dominant mode of inheritance, but not the locus at the IGF2BP2 gene. ANKRD1, a transcription factor involved in myocyte growth and differentiation, may contribute to height by influencing the overall growth of the horses. This marker will be a valuable tool for the selection of breeding stock in breeds with height restrictions for registration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-73.e1
JournalJournal of Equine Veterinary Science
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


  • ANKRD1
  • GWAS
  • IGF2BP2
  • Miniature horse size
  • Withers height

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Equine


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