Latest News

New Test Available: Progressive Retinal Atrophy (Shetland Sheepdog type)

The Veterinary Genetics Laboratory has launched a new test that is specific to the Shetland Sheepdog: Progressive Retinal Atrophy (Shetland Sheepdog type).

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is a term used to describe a group of inherited disorders of the retina, characterized by progressive retinal degeneration and consequent blindness. More than 20 mutations in various genes have been associated with PRA in dogs, many of which are breed-specific. 

New Test Available: Equine Juvenile Spinocerebellar Ataxia (EJSCA)

Equine Juvenile Spinocerebellar Ataxia (EJSCA) is an inherited neurologic disease that causes ataxia in American Quarter Horses. The variant causing this disease was identified at UC Davis by Dr. Carrie Finno, Gregory L. Ferraro Endowed Director of the UC Davis Center for Equine Health (CEH), and colleagues, and the scientific paper describing this finding is currently in progress. Dr. Finno found that affected foals developed ataxia, or incoordination, between 1 and 4 weeks of age. In most affected foals, the hind limbs appeared to be more severely affected than the front limbs.

New Test Available: Saluki Encephalopathy

Saluki encephalopathy is a neurological disorder caused by Succinic Semialdehyde Dehydrogenase Deficiency (SSADHD) and clinically characterized by early onset of seizures and abnormal behaviors. The condition, also known as central nervous system status spongiosus in Saluki dogs (SSSD), is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner and affected puppies typically display seizures, hypermetria (exaggerated gait), and abnormal behaviors, such as episodes of vocalization, within the first 10 weeks of age. 

New Test Available: Congenital Myotonia (CM) in the New Forest Pony

Congenital myotonia (CM) is a heritable neuromuscular disorder that affects the New Forest Pony and is characterized by a slow relaxation of skeletal muscles following voluntary contraction. This condition also affects humans and goats (“fainting” goats).

Affected foals are born normal and have well developed musculature soon after birth but begin showing signs of this neuromuscular disorder within the first few months of life. These affected foals are often seen lying down and have difficulty rising to their feet due to muscle stiffness. 

A retrospective study suggests Standardbred horses are predisposed to cataracts

A collaborative study between Cornell University and University of California-Davis investigated the prevalence of congenital/juvenile cataracts in different horse breeds and highlighted an overrepresentation of Standardbred horses among affected individuals across two hospital populations, suggesting a genetic predisposition to this disorder in the breed.

New Test Available: Congenital Ichthyosis in the Labrador Retriever

Congenital ichthyosis is a genetic skin disorder in which the outer layer of the skin does not form properly. As a result, scaling and shedding of the outer layer of the skin is observed. Symptoms of ichthyosis include mild to moderate generalized scaling on the body, usually excluding the head, extremities, paw pads, and nose. The scales are initially a whitish color but become pigmented, progressing to gray or black, and can range in size from small to large.

Meet the 2023-2024 Ann T. Bowling Fellowship Recipient!

The Ann T. Bowling Fellowship was established by the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory (VGL) in memory of Dr. Ann Bowling, who was a pioneer in veterinary genetics. In line with the VGL’s mission to promote and enhance research and education in animal genetics, this fellowship provides one year of support to full-time graduate students in UC Davis Ph.D. programs whose research is directed at identifying and understanding the genetic basis of heritable disorders that afflict animal species.

New Test Available - Rod-Cone Dysplasia Type 2 (rcd2)

Rod-cone dysplasia type 2 (rcd2) is a type of early-onset retinal degeneration that affects collie breeds and typically leads to blindness. Affected dogs begin to show vision deficits in low light (night blindness) as early as 6 weeks of age and can be completely blind by 6-8 months.

DNA testing for rod-cone dysplasia type 2 can determine the genetic status of dogs. Dogs with one copy of the RCD2 variant are normal but are carriers. Matings between two carrier dogs may, on average, produce 25% of puppies with rod-cone dysplasia type 2.

VGL researchers identify a novel Splashed White variant (SW8) in a Thoroughbred horse

A VGL research study lead by Dr. Rebecca Bellone identified a de novo genetic variant in the microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF) gene of a Thoroughbred stallion with splashed white coat pattern. Splashed white got its name because horses with this coat pattern look like they splashed in white paint, as they typically have high amounts of white markings on the legs, face, and abdomen.

New Test Available - Cerebellar Ataxia (CA) in the Spinone Italiano

Spinocerebellar ataxia (also known as cerebellar ataxia or CA) is an inherited disorder that affects the Spinone Italiano and is characterized by early onset of progressive incoordination (ataxia). Affected dogs are normal at birth and begin showing signs of incoordination and loss of balance at about 4 months of age. The disorder progresses with clinical signs worsening in the next few months. Affected puppies are often euthanized before they reach one year of age due to the inability to ambulate and poor quality of life.

VGL parentage testing confirms rare event in equine reproduction

Delayed embryo development is a rare occurrence in horses. In collaboration with researchers at Colorado State University, results from UC Davis VGL parentage testing verified this rare finding in a donor Quarter Horse (QH) mare.