Italian Scientists Map the Genomes of Two Donkeys

As published on HorseTalk

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation
photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Scientists who sequenced the genome of two donkeys named Peppe and Pippo found more similarities with the horse genome than previous research has suggested.

The Italian research involved one of the first uses of an Ion Proton sequencer – a next-generation semiconductor-based sequencing platform – to investigate a complex and large genome.

The scientists from the universities of Bologna and Messina obtained the genetic make-up of the two unrelated male donkeys from Sicily and compared the data with information available from the previously mapped donkey draft genome from an animal reared at the Copenhagen Zoo, as well as EquCab2.0 horse genome.

Luca Fontanesi and his colleagues found that the genomes of Peppe and Pippo were more closely aligned with the horse genome than the draft donkey genome…(CONTINUED)

Click (HERE) to read the rest of the story and to comment directly at HorseTalk


  1. There is a lot I don’t know, but I have learned that scientists found ancient mitochondrial DNA of the modern horse in the Stephen’s Village area of the Yukon in a study published in the PNAS December 29,2009, by Haile, al. The identity of the horse species was hidden in Table 1. where the link is somewhat misplaced, but it is there or the last time I looked, it was still there.

    So the modern horse species (Equus caballus) was in the table since it was one of the eight subjects of the research on megafaunal extinctions. However, on p. 14 of the the Supplementary information, the presence of the burro (E. asinus), donkey (E. hermionus), and the zebra (E. bruchelli) were also found. This makes sense because the horse is believed to be the last of the modern equids to evolve. Scientists do not know which of the preceding forms may have joined to form E. caballus. It looks to me like one of them had to be E. bruchelli since there are so many horses with the striped legs and dorsal stripes, but I have not found any research that has discussed the most recent findings. There is a lot going on.

    It might make sense for the Italian donkeys to be closest to the horse because some of the horses from North America used the Iberian peninsula as a refruga and were there quite a long time without any new horses being introduced due to geological events that separated the peninsular from the mainland. I think this is pretty exciting.


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