The following is an article concerning clones, by Tom Reed of Morningside Stud.
Pink Flamingos or Pink Horses?
What do you think? Would you breed to a clone or purchase a clone or the offspring of a clone? Would you clone a horse yourself if finances were not an issue?
This issue slowly makes its way to the forefront considering many clones are now attaining the age of competition and breeding. Yet we have much to learn yet as it pertains to cloning.
Here's an article concerning Smart Little Lena's clones
An article concerning clones in the NCHA
The clone of Quidam de Revel
Do you think it's cheating to compete the clone of a highly successful horse?
Does the success of a clone - reproductively or competitively - rest solely upon replicated DNA? This is one issue facing scientists, and a seemingly insurmountable one in some regards. As it concerns the developing embryo, one must consider epigenetics, which "refers to functionally relevant modifications to the genome that do not involve a change in the nucleotide sequence", "heritable changes in gene expression or cellular phenotype caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence whose genetic modifications are inheritable". More on epigenetics and evolution here. Neither can we neglect the impact of the behaviour of mitochondrial DNA, which is inherited from the mother's ovum. Proteomes also play a role by changing in response to intra and extra cellular environmental signals. These are only a limited number of factors that can impact the developing foal; we have much to understand and learn yet and some knowledge that potentially will never be realized. Then we also have to contend with the environment in which a foal is raised once born. Human handling (incorrect versus correct, amount of, etc), disposition of the mare, whether or not the foal is raised in a herd environment or not, turnout... the list of factors that may impact the future "success" of a clone are substantial and not to be taken lightly. Further on that we also have the impact of training; how many times have we experienced or seen a trainer able to work with one type of horse but not another? Or a horse who has passed through the hands of several trainers, unsuccessful, before realizing its potential in the hands of one particular trainer? Sometimes the Greats, those horses highly successful in sport, are such in spite of particular handling, or are a direct result of their handling and training.
So is it truly cheating to compete a clone? While a certain edge or advantage is obviously not to be discounted, is it enough to ensure true success? Success that measures that of its original?
What about using clones solely for reproductive purposes? To pass on the genetics of a highly successful gelding? Or a stallion who died too young or who was only able to reproduce a limited number of foals? Or a highly successful mare?
There is much to learn yet but it is time to start considering all these points (if you haven't already) as it pertains to cloning as it increasingly impacts our industry. Should we be tracking clones? Or allowing their registration and competition? While cloning may not impact you directly today, it certainly has impacted our industry and will continue to progressively do so.