Year of Publication


Document Type





Veterinary Science

First Advisor

Teri L. Lear

Second Advisor

Ernest Bailey


The ten extant species in the genus Equus are separated by less than 3.7 million years of evolution. Three lines of investigation were pursued to further characterize equid genome organization. 1.) The Przewalski.s wild horse (E. przewalskii, EPR) has a diploid chromosome number of 2n=66, while the domestic horse (E. caballus, ECA) has 2n=64. A comparative gene map for E. przewalskii was constructed using 46 bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) probes previously mapped to 38 of 44 E. caballus chromosome arms and ECAX. BAC clones were hybridized to metaphase spreads of E. przewalskii and localized by fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH). No exceptions to homology between E. przewalskii and E. caballus were identified, except for ECA5, a metacentric chromosome with homology to two acrocentric chromosome pairs, EPR23 and EPR24. 2.) The onager (E. hemionus onager, EHO) has a modal diploid chromosome number 2n=56 and a documented chromosome number polymorphism within its population, resulting in individuals with 2n=55. Construction of a comparative gene map of a 2n=55 onager by FISH using 52 BAC probes previously mapped to 40 of 44 E. caballus chromosome arms and ECAX identified multiple chromosome rearrangements between E. caballus and E. h. onager. 3.) A centric fission (Robertsonian translocation) polymorphism has been documented in 5 of the ten extant equid species, namely, E. h. onager, E. h. kulan, E. kiang, E. africanus somaliensis, and E. quagga burchelli. BAC clones containing equine (E. caballus, ECA) genes SMARCA5 (ECA2q21 homologue to human (HSA) chromosome 4p) and UCHL1 (ECA3q22 homologue to HSA4q) were FISH mapped to metaphase spreads for individuals possessing the chromosome number polymorphism. These probes mapped to a single metacentric chromosome and two unpaired acrocentrics showing that the centric fission polymorphism involves the same homologous chromosome segments in each species and has homology to HSA4. These data suggest the polymorphism is either ancient and conserved within the genus or has occurred recently and independently within each species. Since these species are separated by 1-3 million years of evolution, the persistence of this polymorphism would be remarkable and worthy of further investigations.