An interesting abstract has just been published by an Iranian research team which confirms that their scientists are able to predict the sex of horse foals prior to birth. The researchers from Shahrekord University attained a “good degree of accuracy” in their foal sex predictions in as short a time as eight weeks after conception. Their projection method is accomplished via the testing of the mare’s blood plasma.
The researchers at Shahrekord initially desired to generate a concurrent polymerase chain reaction [PCR]) test that could identify circulating cell-free fetal DNA [ccffDNA] in plasma obtained from gravid Arabian mares, and then predict whether the foals were male or female by identifying the SRY gene within it.” It is the SRY gene, as we know, that determines male sex.
The team states that peripheral samples of blood are drawn from the pregnant mares in the field study. These samples are taken at a specific time for all mares, that is between 8 and 20 weeks of gestation. Researchers draw 3 ml of the maternal plasma for the ccffDNA required to perform the real-time PCR test. This test is done to identify the SRY gene and use the GAPDH gene “as the internal control.” However, the first efforts with the real-time PCR tests came up with inconclusive results for the SRY gene. The research team repeated the tests in a second round, coming up with decisive findings. In fact, the actual numbers in this study of the unborn horse foals achieved an accuracy rate of the correct sex in 22 of 25 pregnancies. This accrues an accuracy rate of 88 percent.
The research team consists of Ali Kadivar, Rohollah Dehghani Tafti, Heidar Heidari Khoei, Mahboobeh Heidari Nasirabadi, Naser Shams Esfandabadi, and Narjes Cheraghi. The team reports:
To conclude, SRY gene can permit detection of equine fetal sex with a good accuracy by analyzing cffDNA in maternal plasma just after 8 weeks of gestation.
The abstract can be read in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science.