The science of spots

30 04 2007

Appylacians, originally uploaded by MaiKoh.


The Appaloosa Project is a research initiative being conducted by a team of researchers from Canada and the United States. It is a long-term effort designed to identify and isolate the main genes responsible for Appaloosa patterning, and to investigate key physical traits associated with these genes.

The Appaloosa Project’s new Web site, is designed for breeders and enthusiasts of Appaloosas and all other spotted breeds. The site presents the most current scientific research into Appaloosa coat patterning in layman’s terms. comprises three parts: a general access area open to all visitors, an educational resource area, and an electronic classroom. Subscribers to the resource area have access to articles and in-depth answers to many commonly asked questions on Appaloosa genetics. On the site’s interactive forum, the researchers will answer members’ questions relating to their own breeding programs, and members can learn how to apply new knowledge about Appaloosa genetics in order to increase the odds of consistently breeding well-marked foals.

“Not only can Appaloosa breeders from all over the world access the most recent, researched information directly from the source, they can ask the researchers for assistance,” said Appaloosa Project Coordinator Sheila Archer.

Formerly a free Yahoo-based group with more than 1,000 members, The Appaloosa Project will now require a subscription for full access.

“We are at a critical point in our research, and need to find new ways to raise funds,” Archer said. “It is our hope that by moving to a subscription-based service, we can achieve our research goals faster, offering our educational services as a means of fundraising for research initiatives.”

The Appaloosa Project has a number of studies underway that will impact [sic] breeders of spotted horses.

Some of the most eagerly awaited research is the completion of the search for the ‘Lp’ gene, the key gene responsible for causing a horse to have Appaloosa color characteristics. Members of the Appaloosa Project discovered the location of LP on equine chromosome 1 (Terry, Archer, Brooks, Bernoco and Bailey, 2004), but the ongoing process of identifying the gene and the causative mutation is a painstaking, lengthy, and expensive. This research will ultimately result in the development of a DNA test.

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2 responses

30 04 2007
Chris @ Real Horses

Loved the picture you posted. I have a soft spot for spots.

1 05 2007

Thanks! I find the most gorgeous things on Flickr. I love that stripe in the mane which must be growing out of a spot on the neck. Just lovely. 🙂

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