Short Communication

Quick method for identifying horse (Equus caballus) and donkey (Equus asinus) hybrids

Published: September 23, 2016
Genet. Mol. Res. 15(3): gmr8895 DOI: 10.4238/gmr.15038895

Abstract

The domestication of the Equus genus 5000-6000 years ago has influenced the history of human civilization. As soon as horse and donkey species had been domesticated, they were crossbred, producing humanity’s first documented attempt at animal genome manipulation. Since then, the mule (male donkey x female horse) and the reciprocal cross (the hinny, male horse x female donkey) have been the most common equine hybrids in the world. Due to their hybrid vigor, mules and hinnies have been intensively used for carrying loads and people and for tilling the land. Despite their importance, visual distinction of mules and hinnies is difficult due to high phenotypic resemblance. However, the distinction between these two hybrids is of pivotal importance for equid breeders and ranchers. In this study, an easy, low-cost, effective, and fast multiplex-polymerase chain reaction method was developed to distinguish the maternal origin of mules and hinnies, targeting the hyper-variable mitochondrial DNA D-loop region. This methodology can help breeders, ranchers, animal science professionals, and researchers manage their equine herds with more confidence and precision.

The domestication of the Equus genus 5000-6000 years ago has influenced the history of human civilization. As soon as horse and donkey species had been domesticated, they were crossbred, producing humanity’s first documented attempt at animal genome manipulation. Since then, the mule (male donkey x female horse) and the reciprocal cross (the hinny, male horse x female donkey) have been the most common equine hybrids in the world. Due to their hybrid vigor, mules and hinnies have been intensively used for carrying loads and people and for tilling the land. Despite their importance, visual distinction of mules and hinnies is difficult due to high phenotypic resemblance. However, the distinction between these two hybrids is of pivotal importance for equid breeders and ranchers. In this study, an easy, low-cost, effective, and fast multiplex-polymerase chain reaction method was developed to distinguish the maternal origin of mules and hinnies, targeting the hyper-variable mitochondrial DNA D-loop region. This methodology can help breeders, ranchers, animal science professionals, and researchers manage their equine herds with more confidence and precision.