Recent breakthroughs in colour genetics

10 10 2006

Barlink Gold Rush

Barlink Gold Rush (Barlink Macho Man x Barkota Bell), Paint stallion

The “Barlink” dilution (so called because it is found in horses descended from the Paint stallion Barlink Macho Man) resembles the effects of both the champagne gene and the “Pearl” dilution (which I mentioned in an earlier post):

In single dose, the Barlink factor appears to dilute the skin of the carriers. The chestnuts with submitted photographs have pink speckles on their otherwise black skin, very similar to what happens on many cream dilutes. The gene is not cream, as these mares do not demonstrate the cream gene when tested by UC Davis. With a single Barlink gene, the coat color does not seem to be affected.

In double dose, the Barlink factor appears to dilute the hair coat to a medium dilute shade (similar to one cream or one champagne gene), and dilutes the skin to near pink.

The Barlink factor appears to enhance cream, essentially causing a double dilution of the hair coat, skin and eyes. This would cause the phenomenon of pseudo-cremello and pseudo-smoky cream foals. I have not yet seen the effect on buckskin, but it is likely a pseudo-perlino would result. (Link)

The brilliant folks at UC Davis have recently announced that they have come up with a genetic test for the Barlink dilution, which they are calling “apricot”. The tests are done using mane or tail hair with the roots attached.

Update (Oct 22/06): UC Davis is now calling this dilution “pearl”. It’s been found to be the same gene, and most likely came to the Paint/QH gene pool through the breeds’ Spanish ancestry. Lovely how everything comes full circle. 🙂
Wilson's Smoky Jo

Wilson’s Smoky Jo, black silver dapple Missouri Foxtrotter stallion

The gorgeous silver dapple gene (which the Aussies call ‘taffy’) dilutes black pigment: on a black horse, the body colour becomes a silver or chocolate colour, with the mane and tail turning silvery. On bay, brown or buckskin horses, the manes, tails and leg points are diluted while the body usually stays red or tan, depending on the base colour. A new study has just been published identifying the gene responsible; a test for silver dapple can’t be far behind. So far, the colour has been identified in the following breeds: Shetlands, Welsh Ponies, mustangs, Miniature Horses, Icelandics, Missouri Foxtrotters, Tennessee Walkers, Rocky Mountain Horses, Quarter Horses and Morgans (but may be in other breeds as well). Speaking of Morgans, Laura Behning has done a lot of research into the silver dapple gene in Morgans (and bred a corker of a bay silver dapple colt this year): The Silver Dapple Morgans Project.




7 responses

10 10 2006
I Gallop On

Very interesting article.

I nearly flunked this part of biology in college. 😦 And it still pretty much remains a mystery to me. You’ve explained this well.


29 04 2007
Horse colour demystified: the dun gene « Bridlepath

[…] Recent breakthroughs in colour genetics […]

10 05 2007
Orville C. Langdeau Jr.

i have bred a chestnut mare of mine with a black/brown&white tobi, and the first colt was a bay, with the silver tail, and turning silver mane, and last years colt was a chocolate pearl, with a silver tail and turning silver main, i had one heck of a time trying to decide what color they were, are they really that rare.


10 05 2007

Depends on what breed; I’d get them tested to be sure. 🙂

11 05 2007

Silver dapple update

Northgait’s Dakota, bay silver dapple Mountain Pleasure Horse gelding
I recently told y’all that scientists had found the gene responsible for silver dapple–genetic testing is now available! Contact UC Davis or Pet DNA Services for …

6 10 2007
Sable cream dun stallion - Genetic people explain! - Horse Breeding

[…] with the cream gene, creates a pseudo-champagne. which is the Barlink gene and IS testable for. Recent breakthroughs in colour genetics Bridlepath […]

28 04 2009

I would love to learn more about extracting the paint genes and putting them into a thoroughbred. The tb would be pure tb but with the paint colour, that is of course the paint is stong. Thats what i would like to do, but im not sure if its possible. Any ideas would help.

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