Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Genome yields insights into golden eagle vision, smell

25.04.2014

Purdue and West Virginia University researchers are the first to sequence the genome of the golden eagle, providing a bird's-eye view of eagle features that could lead to more effective conservation strategies.

Their study calls into question long-held assumptions about golden eagle vision, indicating that the raptors may not be as sensitive to ultraviolet light as previously thought. The genome also suggests that golden eagles could have a sharper sense of smell than researchers realized.


This is a golden eagle.

Credit: Todd Katzner

Additionally, the genome provides thousands of genetic markers that will help researchers track populations and monitor eagle mortality.

"Having the golden eagle genome in hand could directly affect the way we make conservation and management decisions," said Jacqueline Doyle, postdoctoral research associate and first author of the paper.

Though it is one of the most widespread avian species, the golden eagle is threatened throughout much of its range by poaching, shrinking habitats and fatal collisions with wind turbines. An estimated 67 golden eagles are killed annually at a single wind farm - the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area in central California - a heavy toll on a species that reproduces slowly and can live up to 30 years, said J. Andrew DeWoody, professor of genetics and senior author of the study.

One recently proposed method of reducing turbine-related eagle deaths was to coat wind turbines with ultraviolet-reflective paint, thereby heightening their visibility to eagles, which were thought to be sensitive to ultraviolet light. But the golden eagle genome suggests that eagle vision is rooted in the violet spectrum - like human sight - rather than the ultraviolet.

"We find little genomic evidence that golden eagles are sensitive to ultraviolet light," Doyle said. "Painting wind turbines with ultraviolet-reflective paint is probably not going to prevent eagles from colliding with turbines."

Analysis of the genome also revealed that golden eagles have far more genes associated with smell than previously realized, indicating that the birds might use smell to locate prey more than researchers thought.

Doyle used the genome to identify thousands of genetic markers that together could act as a DNA "fingerprint," allowing researchers to distinguish individual birds, follow them in a population and determine population size and flux, parentage and genetic variation.

DeWoody said the markers would also help scientists track the evolution of different families of genes and identify potential golden eagle pathogens, parasites and symbiotic organisms.

The researchers generated the genome by extracting DNA from a blood sample of a golden eagle that was captured with a spring-loaded net in California. The eagle was outfitted with a Global Positioning System tracking device before its release, making it possibly the first animal to have its genome sequenced and be tracked at the same time, DeWoody said.

Team leader Todd Katzner, a research assistant professor at West Virginia University, said the GPS device could allow the team to relate the individual movements and behavior of the golden eagle to its genome.

DeWoody said the golden eagle "truly represents the wild. We want to preserve and conserve this species for future generations, and the genome will improve our ability to do that."

###

The paper was published Wednesday (April 23) in PLOS ONE and is available at http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0095599.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Purdue University Provost's Office provided funding for the research.

Natalie van Hoose | Eurek Alert!

Further reports about: DNA DeWoody Genome Golden eagles eagle genes markers species ultraviolet

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht From rigid to flexible
29.08.2016 | Technische Universität Dresden

nachricht Moth takes advantage of defensive compounds in Physalis fruits
26.08.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Streamlining accelerated computing for industry

PyFR code combines high accuracy with flexibility to resolve unsteady turbulence problems

Scientists and engineers striving to create the next machine-age marvel--whether it be a more aerodynamic rocket, a faster race car, or a higher-efficiency jet...

Im Focus: X-ray optics on a chip

Waveguides are widely used for filtering, confining, guiding, coupling or splitting beams of visible light. However, creating waveguides that could do the same for X-rays has posed tremendous challenges in fabrication, so they are still only in an early stage of development.

In the latest issue of Acta Crystallographica Section A: Foundations and Advances , Sarah Hoffmann-Urlaub and Tim Salditt report the fabrication and testing of...

Im Focus: Piggyback battery for microchips: TU Graz researchers develop new battery concept

Electrochemists at TU Graz have managed to use monocrystalline semiconductor silicon as an active storage electrode in lithium batteries. This enables an integrated power supply to be made for microchips with a rechargeable battery.

Small electrical gadgets, such as mobile phones, tablets or notebooks, are indispensable accompaniments of everyday life. Integrated circuits in the interiors...

Im Focus: UCI physicists confirm possible discovery of fifth force of nature

Light particle could be key to understanding dark matter in universe

Recent findings indicating the possible discovery of a previously unknown subatomic particle may be evidence of a fifth fundamental force of nature, according...

Im Focus: Wi-fi from lasers

White light from lasers demonstrates data speeds of up to 2 GB/s

A nanocrystalline material that rapidly makes white light out of blue light has been developed by KAUST researchers.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

The energy transition is not possible without Geotechnics

25.08.2016 | Event News

New Ideas for the Shipping Industry

24.08.2016 | Event News

A week of excellence: 22 of the world’s best computer scientists and mathematicians in Heidelberg

12.08.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

3-D-printed structures 'remember' their shapes

29.08.2016 | Materials Sciences

From rigid to flexible

29.08.2016 | Life Sciences

Sensor systems identify senior citizens at risk of falling within 3 weeks

29.08.2016 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>