The team was led by Drs. Christopher Seabury and Ian Tizard at the Schubot Exotic Bird Health Center in the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M. Their work is published in the current issue of the open access and peer-reviewed scientific journal PLOS ONE.
The bird selected for the sequencing was a female named "Neblina" who lives in the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines, Iowa. Neblina is believed to be from Brazil. She was confiscated during a raid on illegally imported exotic birds by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1995.
Tizard says that a blood sample was taken from Neblina, DNA was extracted for sequencing, and after a series of steps, the sequence of the genome was assembled by Seabury and his team.
"The final analysis showed that there are about one billion DNA bases in the genome, which is about one-third of that found in mammals," Tizard explains. "Birds have much less DNA than mammals primarily because they do not possess nearly as much repetitive DNA."
The final completed genome demonstrates some similarities to that of the chicken. "But there are significant differences at both the genome and biological level," he adds. For example, "Macaws can fly great distances, while chickens can't. In addition, brain development and volume are very different in macaws, which is unsurprising since they are very intelligent birds compared to chickens. Likewise, macaws can live many years, while chickens usually do not, and therefore, our macaw genome sequence may help shed light on the genetic factors that influence longevity and intelligence."
Tizard notes that a Scarlet macaw was selected for the first such sequencing of its type because Texas A&M researchers have been studying the bird for many years. Working primarily at the Tambopata Research Center in Peru, Texas A&M bird experts have been investigating macaw diseases, behavior and genetics.
"We now have the ability to initiate large-scale, genome-wide approaches for population and phylogeography studies," explains Seabury, who is a collaborator of Donald Brightsmith, director of the Tambopata Macaw Research Project in Peru (http://www.macawproject.org/).
Seabury and Brightsmith add that the array of research possibilities regarding the Scarlet Macaw has now been significantly broadened by this research initiative.
Macaws are found in tropical Central and South America, from southern Mexico to northern Argentina. Trapping of the birds for the pet trade, plus loss of habitat due to deforestation in their native lands, has severely decreased their numbers since the 1960s.
There are 23 species of macaws, and some of these have already become extinct while others are endangered.
Macaws can live 50 to 75 years and often outlive their owners.
"They are considered to be among the most intelligent of all birds and also one of the most affectionate – it is believed they are sensitive to human emotions," explains Tizard.
"Possessing stunning feathers that are brightly colored, some macaws have a wingspan approaching four feet. They also usually mate for life and can fly as fast as 35 miles per hour."
The Schubot Center at Texas A&M is dedicated to studies on disease and conservation of exotic birds, both in captivity and in the wild. For more information, go to http://vetmed.tamu.edu/schubot.
About Research at Texas A&M University:
As one of the world's leading research institutions, Texas A&M is in the vanguard in making significant contributions to the storehouse of knowledge, including that of science and technology. Research conducted at Texas A&M represents an annual investment of more than $700 million. That research creates new knowledge that provides basic, fundamental and applied contributions resulting in many cases in economic benefits to the state, nation and world.
Media contact:Keith Randall
Keith Randall | EurekAlert!
Making Oceans Plastic Free - Project tackles the problem of plastic pollution in the oceans
31.05.2017 | Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenforschung (ZMT)
Nitrogen Oxides Emissions: Traffic Dramatically Underestimated as Major Polluter
31.05.2017 | Universität Innsbruck
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
Germany counts high-precision manufacturing processes among its advantages as a location. It’s not just the aerospace and automotive industries that require almost waste-free, high-precision manufacturing to provide an efficient way of testing the shape and orientation tolerances of products. Since current inline measurement technology not yet provides the required accuracy, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is collaborating with four renowned industry partners in the INSPIRE project to develop inline sensors with a new accuracy class. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the project is scheduled to run until the end of 2019.
New Manufacturing Technologies for New Products
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
22.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
22.06.2017 | Business and Finance
22.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy