Siberian Husky or just Huskies, are one of the most loved dogs across the world. With proper training, these dogs make a great home pet. In colder regions, they can be used as sledge dogs too. Originated in Siberia, these dogs are known for their captivating blue eyes.
According to recent studies, a team of scientists from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine have discovered the reason behind the beautiful sapphire eyes of these dogs. The breed's genetic makeup is such that it causes them to have blue eyes. While conducting the research, DNA samples of more than 6,000 dogs were studied. The findings revealed that duplication on canine chromosome 18 was the reason why these dogs have blue eyes.
This was apparently the first consumer genomics study which was ever conducted on non-human models. This is also the largest canine genome-wide association study till date.
Genomics is a branch of molecular biology which looks at the structure, function, evolution and mapping of genomes (or set of chromosomes in an organism). Study of consumer genomics is concerned with the analysis of sequencing and interpretation of the genome of an organism, carried out on a large scale. It can be carried out on any organism, humans and animals alike.
Even though equipments required for the genomic studies are available, the genetic make-up of many traits found in living organisms is yet to be discovered. Scientists Adam Bokyo and Aaron Sams along with their colleagues conducted the studies on a large scale about the dogs along with their owners via web-based surveys and photo uploads. They found that 98.6-kilobase duplication on chromosome 18 near the ALX4 gene. The gene plays a vital role in the eye development of mammals - and this was strongly connected with the blue eye colour in the mammals.
According to studies, only one copy of the gene was enough to cause this heterochromatic variation (having blue or brown eyes) in the mammals. Further, the functional mechanism which underlies this association can assumably lead to undiscovered findings which would solve the mystery of why the blue colour develops in certain mammals and why they don't develop in others.
Researcher Aaron Sams said, "Using genetic data from the pets of our customers, combined with eye colours reported by customers for those same animals, we have discovered a genetic duplication that is strongly associated with blue eye colour."
(With Inputs from ANI)