Of multiple-horned goats and sheep

Bovidae sometimes display supernumerary horns. For instance, local breeds of sheep genetically selected by generations of breeders, are known for their multiple horns, a condition referred to as ‘polyceraty’. It also happens, particularly in the Alps, that goats spontaneously develop an additional pair of horns. While the genetic causes of this morphological curiosity have long remained unknown, it seems that this mystery has now found its solution. Indeed, a genomic study of many such mutant animals, carried out by the French National Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research (INRAE) and the union of breeding cooperatives ALLICE together with Pr Denis Duboule’s group, in collaboration with the EPFL and several other research centers distributed over four continents, reveals that all the four-horned goats and sheep analyzed carry a mutations affecting the same gene: HOXD1.

The article was published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution on February 16, 2021.

Press release

This study is also covered by other media :

Le mystère du bouc à quatre cornes levé Tribune de Genève, 17.02.2021

Mystère génétique résolu 20 Minutes Genève, 17.02.2021

Le mystère des chèvres et moutons à quatre… swissinfo.ch/fr / swissinfo FR, 17.02.2021