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Scientists ID gene mutation responsible for blue eyes
The genetic variant discovered by Embark is particularly prevalent in Siberian huskies.
Genetic variant is particularly prevalent in Siberian huskies 

Scientists have identified the genetic mutation that is responsible for blue eyes in dogs.

In the largest study of its kind, DNA company Embark gathered data from 6,000 dogs. Owners carried out at-home DNA tests and completed online surveys about their dog’s appearance and health.

Blue eyes appear most often in Siberian huskies but the trait also applies to breeds such as the Australian shepherd and many mixed breed dogs.

The genetic variant discovered by Embark is particularly prevalent in Siberian huskies and scientists say it explains nearly all occurrences of blue eyes and heterochromia (multi-coloured eyes) in the breed.

Embark CEO and founder Ryan Boyko said: “Making this discovery marks an enormous milestone in the capabilities of crowdsourced genetic research in animals besides humans. By working with our own customers’ pets, we have successfully identified the genetic marker for a key canine trait.

“We are just touching the tip of the iceberg in genetic discoveries in our canine companions. In analysing crowdsourced data, we will continue to make discoveries that teach us more about the biology of canines in the hopes that someday we will end preventable disease in man’s best friend.” 

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New road sign to protect small wildlife

News Story 1
 Transport secretary Chris Grayling has unveiled a new road sign to help cut traffic accidents and protect small wildlife, particularly hedgehogs.

Local authorities and animal welfare groups are being asked to identify accident and wildlife hotspots where the sign - which features a hedgehog - should be located.

Government figures show that more than 600 people were injured in road accidents involving animals in 2017, and four people were killed. These figures do not include accidents involving horses. The new sign will be used to warn motorists in areas where there are large concentrations of small wild animals, including squirrels, badgers, otters and hedgehogs.  

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NOAH members re-elect Jamie Brannan as chair

Jamie Brannan, senior Vice President of Zoetis, has been re-elected as chair of NOAH for 2019/20, during this year’s AGM, held in London.

Mr Brannan joined Zoetis and the NOAH board in 2016, becoming NOAH’s vice-chair in 2018 and replacing Gaynor Hillier as chair later that year.

He commented: “I am extremely pleased to have been elected by the NOAH membership and am proud to be able to represent our industry at such a critical time for the UK animal health industry. I look forward to driving forward our new NOAH Strategy and to working with our members, old and new, in the coming year.”