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Novel mutation identified in Standardbred horse
The foal provided an exciting opportunity to identify the variation as it occurred.
Scientists at UC Davis tracked the origination example. 

Scientists at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) have tracked a genetic variation in a unique foal born in New Zealand with a sabino-like white spotting pattern.

Using genetic analysis. the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory determined that the white pattern in the Standardbred foal is a novel mutation, or de novo. Meaning that the mutation occurred during the foal's development.

Dr Rebecca Bellone, director of the laboratory, explained the significance of the discovery: “Discovering a de novo mutation is always exciting as most of the time as geneticists we are trying to trace the history of genetic variation, not identifying the variation in the generation in which they occur.”

Born at Wai Eyre Farm in New Zealand, the Standardbred filly was tested for parentage and then for colour coat testing. Following this, genetic analysis using  Ion Torrent S5 amplicon sequencing to discover the novel variant. 

The team at UC Davis collaborated with InfogeneNZ and the International Society for Animal Genetics to conduct the research.

Dr Bellone added: “This discovery shows how breeding remains relevant today for helping us to understand the way that mutations occur and their effects on the living world.”

The article, published in Animal Genetics, can be accessed via this link. The full text is behind a paywall.

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Avian flu outbreak at RSPB Minsmere

News Story 1
 RSPB Minsmere nature reserve in Suffolk has confirmed an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza on its site. The coastal nature reserve has seen an increase in dead birds recently, and has said that it is 'extremely concerned' about the potential impacts on bird populations, with 2021 and 2022 seeing the largest ever outbreak in the UK.

In a statement, RSPB said: "We appreciate that it is distressing, for both visitors and staff, to see dead or dying birds at our site but we ask that if visitors see any dead or unwell birds, they do not touch or go near them and that they report it to us at our Visitor Centre during its opening hours, or by emailing us on outside of these times."  

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News Shorts
Moredun Foundation Award opens for applications

The 2022-2023 Moredun Foundation Award (MFA) is now open for members, with up to £2,000 available for successful applicants.

The MFA honours the contribution that education, teamwork, life experience, and travel have made to the understanding of cattle health and welfare. Through its charitable endeavours, Moredun offers its members the opportunity to pursue projects that support personal development.

The prize is open to a wide range of project applications, including those that include producing educational tools, conducting a small research project, or studying farming methods in other nations. For more information and to apply, visit