Research Achievments of NRCE

ICAR-NRCE is to undertake research activities on health and production management in equines. Moreover, act as national referral facility for diagnosis of equine diseases besides providing advisory and consultancy services for the benefit of equine stakeholders in the country. The Centre has developed refined diagnostics including immuno and molecular diagnostics and vaccines against various equine diseases. Furthermore, centre has developed animal models for various equine diseases.


Equine herpes virus(EHV)

  • A highly sensitive and specific neutralizing monoclonal antibody-based-‘Equiherpes B-ELISA’ kit was developed for its diagnosis.
  • Differentiation of the EHV 1& EHV4 viruses are being carried out by ELISA and qPCR and molecular typing of EHV-1 isolates by detecting polymorphism in ORF 68 gene.
  • Differentiation of neuropathogenic and non-neuropathogenic strains of EHV1 are being done by qPCR and sequencing of ORF30 gene.
  • Inactivated EHV1 vaccine “Equiherpabort” was developed using indigenous virus.
  • n vitro and in vivo model of persistent/latent EHV1 infection was developed for pathogenicity and vaccine efficacy studies.
  • A murine model was developed for EHV-1 induced abortion for pathogenesis and challenge studies.


Equine influenza (EI)

  • Immunodiagnostics developed: Haemagglutination inhibition (HI) assay, virus isolation, monoclonal antibody (mAb) based sandwich ELISA.
  • Molecular diagnostic tests developed – RT-PCR &qRT-PCR for identification of EI virus.
  • Molecular epidemiology by sequencing and antigenic typing of virus isolates.
  • World’s first murine model for equine influenza virus infection was developed for pathogenesis and vaccine efficacy studies.
  • Developed updated vaccine using new Florida clade 2 virus strain {A/eq/Katra-Jammu/06/08 (H3N8)} isolated from EI epizootic 2008-09.


Equine infectious anaemia (EIA)

  • Equine infectious anaemia (EIA) – a chronic and debilitating retroviral disease of equids.
  • EIA diagnosis is routinely done with imported Agar Gel Immunodiffusion (AGID) kit.
  • ICAR-NRCE has developed recombinant p26 protein antigen based indirect ELISA kit for faster detection of EIA. This kit is quite economical as compared to imported kit and this kit is being routinely using for sero-surveillance in India.

Japanese encephalitis (JE)

disease caused by JE virus in equines, pigs and humans.

  • Diagnostics developed: monoclonal antibody-based ELISA, viral neutralization (VNT) and RT-PCR assays.


Equine rotavirus(ERV)

acute dehydrating diarrhoea in neonatal foals resulting in high morbidity and mortality.

  • The diagnostics developed for detection of the disease include monoclonal antibody-based sandwich ELISA and RT-PCR assays.



and TssB)-based ELISA.

  • rELISAs developed by ICAR-NRCE are being validated internationally by the FLI, Germany, an OIE (World Animal Health Organization) Referral Laboratory. Ring trial is underway

Rhodococcus equi infection

  • Rhodococcusequi primarily causes foal pneumonia.
  • Disease may be endemic in foals at some farms, sporadic at others, and unrecognized in many farms. In endemic farms, this organism attributes to heavy economic losses due to high morbidity and mortality of young foals.
  • Diagnostics developed: Isolation & identification of the bacteria and PCR assay.


  • Strangles is a contagious upper respiratory tract infection caused by bacterium, Streptococcus equi exhibiting symptoms such as yellow coloured nasal discharge from both nostrils and eyes and abscesses formation in the abdomen, lungs and brain in horses.
  • Diagnostics: Bacteriological culture and identification.


Salmonella Abortus equi

  • Salmonella Abortus equi: Improved bacterin and outer membrane protein-based vaccines have been developed for Salmonella Abortus equi.

Equine Trypanosomosis (Surra)

  • Surra is an important haemoprotozoan disease caused by Trypanosoma evansi
  • Whole Cell lysate (WCL) and recombinant antigens (HSP-70, Flagellar gene) based ELISAs were developed for detection of antibodies against T. evansi infection in equines.
  • Monoclonal antibody-based antigen detection ELISA has been developed.
  • Developed lateral flow assay (LFA) as point-of -care diagnostic assay.
  • Molecular diagnostics developed: PCR assays targeting genes viz., TBR1/2, ITS-1, ISG, ESAG genes; LAMP-PCR assays and qPCR.
  • Genetic diversity analysed by microsatellite genotyping, RAPD, 18sRNA & ITS-1 sequence analysis.

Equine Piroplasmosis

  • Equine Piroplasmosis (Theileriaequi) is a tick-borne disease causing decreased working capacity, in-appetence, malaise, and chronic weight loss in equines.
  • Diagnostics developed: Recombinant EMA-2 protein-based ELISA is being currently used at ICAR-NRCE for imparting diagnosis.
  • Point-of-care diagnostic test – lateral flow assay (LFA) was developed and the kit was released by the Hon’ble Minister of Agriculture and Farmers welfare, Govt. of India.
  • Molecular diagnostics– PCR assay was developed using 18sRNA and EMA-1/EMA-2 gene and qPCR assay was developed to estimate parasitic load.

Drug Development Activities

  • Nano formulations against Trypanosoma evansi: Two nano-formulations (NFI and NFII) of trypanocidal drug quinapyramine sulphate were developed using different polymers which showed effectiveness against parasite at a highly reduced dose.
  • A battery of target specific drug molecules was tested for their in vitro inhibitory efficacy against Theileria equi in MASP culture system. The Hsp 90 and Choline kinase were identified as new potent drug targets.

National-wide Equine Diseases monitoring activities

  • NRCE is actively involved in monitoring and surveillance of the emerging and re-emerging diseases of equines throughout the country using immunobiologicals and diagnostics developed by the Centre. The Centre is contributing and generating significant revenue from its contractual disease testing services and disease investigation.
  • Surveillance of important equine infectious diseases: Viral- equine rhinopneumonitis, equine influenza, equine infectious anaemia, Japanese encephalitis & rotavirus infection; Bacterial- Glanders, Rhodococcus equi infection, contagious equine metritis, strangles; Parasitic- equine piroplasmosisand trypanosomosis is the routine activity of ICAR-NRCE.
  • Information generated by ICAR-NRCE helped in declaring country-freedom from African horse sickness (AHS) in 2006 by the Office International des Epizooties (OIE).
  • Continuous surveillance and monitoring has led to diagnosis, control, and eradication of equine infectious anaemia and Equine Influenza (1987-1988 and 2008-09).
  • The Centre is playing a vital role in diagnosis, notification and control of Glanders at national level. Glanders outbreaks were reported during 2006 in a few states and since then Centre is actively involved in sero-testing of equine samples (>15000/yr) for the disease diagnosis and its control.
  • Rhodococcus equi, MDR E. coli and Streptococcus sp. have been identified as important causes of neonatal foal mortality and responsible for heavy economical losses.


Biological resource Bank at NRCE

  • NRCE has a strong biological resource base having numerous pathogens, recombinant clones, reference sera, equine sera, monoclonal antibody secreting hybridomas, etc.
  • Pathogenic isolates of equine origin available with NRCE include EHV1 and 4 isolates, equine rotavirus, equine influenza virus, Japanese encephalitis virus, West Nile virus, R. equi, S. equi, S. zooepidemicus, S. equisimilis, B. mallei, Salmonella Abortus equi, Enterobacter aerogenes, E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus and T. evansi.
  • ICAR-NRCE has a number of hybridomas secreting monoclonal antibodies against EHV1, equine influenza, equine rotavirus, Japanese encephalitis virus and West Nile virus.
  • ICAR-NRCE has a repository of more than 15,000 equine serum samples collected from different geographical locations in its Equine Serum Bank. ICAR-NRCE has a collection of recombinant plasmid clones with recombinant genes of pathogens including equine influenza virus, equine rotavirus, EHV1, EHV4, EI, JEV, EIAV, R. equi, B. mallei, T. evansi and T. equi.

Equine Breeds Characterization

  • Six indigenous breeds of horses/ponies viz., Marwari, Kathiawari, Spiti, Zanskari, Bhutia and Manipuri, have been characterized phenotypically based on their biometric indices and coat colour.
  • Equids of Marwari and Spiti breeds were found to be significantly taller and smallest respectively, among all the horse breeds.
  • Genetic characterization of indigenous breeds using 55 different microsats heterozygosity analyses with different polymorphic microsats indicated the presence of high genetic diversity within and between different Indian equine breeds.
  • Indigenous donkeys: Donkey populationavailable in six different geographic areas in India, having varied agro-climatic conditions was evaluated for the first time for their phenotypic and genetic diversity within and between populations.

Nucleus Herd of Equine Breeds

  • The Centre has established a nuclear herd of small grey and large white donkeys found in India for conservation and improvement of donkey germplasm.
  • Established nucleu
    s herd of Marwari, Kathiawari, Zanskari and Manipuri horses at Equine Production Campus, Bikaner.
  • Exotic Poitou donkeys are also being maintained for production of superior mules.

Equine Semen Cryopreservation and Artificial Insemination (AI)

  • To conserve the germplasm of indigenous equine breeds, the technique for cryopreservation of semen of Marwari, Kathiawari and donkeys have been standardized.
  • The technique of AI using frozen semen for production of superior quality Marwari horses, superior mules and donkeys has been perfected.
  • The pure germplasm of endangered indigenous breeds of horses is being conserved using this technology.
  • Ex situ conservation of germplasm in the form of frozen semen was carried out for Zanskari and Manipuri horses including indigenous donkeys.

Early Pregnancy Diagnosis

  • NRCE has perfected the technique for collection and freezing of semen at Farmer’s door as the farmers/equine owners do not want to move their prized stallions.
  • Pregnancy diagnosis between days 14 and 18 post-insemination has been achieved using ultrasonography in donkey and horse mares.
  • NRCE has also developed Pregmare Kit which is successfully used to diagnose pregnancy between 30-35 days. The kit also tells about the foetus viability.

Equine work efficiency

  • Load carrying capacity of donkeys as pack animals with different loads have been evaluated for the benefit of poor equine owners and policy makers. This study is based on physiological, physical and biochemical indices with fatigue scores under different working hours with varied loads.