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Cloning in the equestrian world, an increasingly demanded technique


Talking about cloning is a current topic and an increasingly demanded technique. This is why companies like Ovohorse & Ovoclone—a company specializing in equine reproduction and animal cloning—are becoming more present in society, as this process allows for obtaining an exact genetic replica of the desired specimen.

Undoubtedly, it is in the equestrian world where cloning is experiencing significant growth. For example, it allows riders to mount clones of renowned horses at a much lower cost than acquiring the original specimen, and owners have the opportunity to maintain their horse by selling its clones.
Ovohorse & Ovoclone is an expert in carrying out this genetic replication. The process involves taking the nucleus of the cell from the specimen to be cloned (the donor) and transferring it to a nucleus-free recipient oocyte. This technique is called somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT).

Proof that a cloned horse can be as good as the original is the victory of the stallion “Otterongo Alpha Z,” a 9-year-old KWPN, who won the CSI5*-W 1.55m Grand Prix in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The original horse, “Otterongo Van de Kopshoeve,” had a great sports career, winning numerous awards, including a 4th place at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

How is horse cloning performed?

For the cloning technique (not only of horses but all mammals), adult somatic cells are used, such as skin cells, fat tissue cells, or cells derived from bone marrow. This has always been a field of research that generated great interest, especially since the creation of “Dolly,” the famous cloned sheep.

However, studies in this field still have a long way to go. Despite the fact that, essentially, all the horse’s cells have the same DNA (except gametes), various factors influence the efficiency of the cloning process, such as epigenetics (gene expression depending on the environment), the donor animal’s age and health status, and the ease of cultivating and preserving these cells.

The selection of the donor cell is vital for cloning success

As mentioned, the donor cell comes from the specimen to be cloned, meaning it is the genetic material that is to be replicated. In principle, any cell with the correct chromosomes (horses have 64 chromosomes) can be used as a donor cell, but it is most common to use cells from any part of the body that do not risk the animal’s health at the time of collection. Therefore, cells derived from the skin, called fibroblasts, are usually used.

Preservation of cell lines

Once obtained, the cells can be frozen, and if the procedure is carried out correctly, the cells can be maintained indefinitely. This allows for the preservation of our animals’ cell lines and the creation of genetic banks to store the cell lines.
Ovohorse & Ovoclone supports the preservation of cell lines of valuable horses and mares, to maintain their cellular qualities intact until the moment it is decided to clone them. It is important to understand that genetic preservation must be done while the animals are alive and healthy, while the decision to clone can be made in the future.

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