324 pages. 2013. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-8138-1563-3. Price $169.95.
Equine Genomics is an excellent text that compiles historical accomplishments in equine genetics and molecular biology, describes state-of-the art approaches to understanding the equine genome, and provides glimpses of where the field may go in the future. In the preface of the book, the editor suggests that, “Despite its scientifically inclined tone, all horse enthusiasts will find something that they can relate to, understand, and use.” I believe that he has accomplished the task. The book is laid out well, and the chapters are mostly succinct and thorough. It opens with basic chapters written by experts in the field that describe the ingredients needed to discover the genetic basis of traits and disorders in horses (ie, the nuclear and mitochondrial genome, genetic linkage maps, physical and comparative maps, the Y-chromosome, and the equine major histocompatibility complex). The following chapter is on genomic tools such as single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) mapping arrays that enable geneticists and clinicians to identify marker loci associated with particular traits and disorders. The stage is then set for a subsequent chapter about how coat-color genetics is a perfect tool to study how several genes interact and modify a basic pattern to produce an easily observed complex trait or phenotype. The remaining chapters summarize equine disease genomics of skin, muscle, skeleton, reproduction and fertility, the nervous system, and laminitis. One chapter is devoted to karyotyping and the 10 mutation tests, that are currently available for identifying genomic traits and diseases. In my opinion, because that list will expand rapidly it is important to continuously update it and make it available in a central online repository. The chapter on athletic performance genes provides current state-of-the-art information on the use of breeding values for many equine traits and disorders that are genetically determined and inherited; this information will be valuable to equine breeders, trainers, and geneticists. Because each chapter was written by a different expert in the field, some information is repeated in multiple chapters, but this helps to reinforce the concepts and knowledge that the authors believe are important. Given the information provided in this book, you could not design a mapping experiment but you would know what questions to ask should you choose to do so. As the cost of whole genome and transcriptome sequencing technologies decrease and software is developed for those of us who are not computer programmers or well-versed in bioinformatics, rapid advances will follow. Genomic tools continue to outpace the ability of geneticists and clinicians to accumulate the DNA and tissue required to elucidate the genetic architecture of known equine diseases and those not yet identified. It is our responsibility to try to keep up, and I believe this book will help us do that.