Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Kiwi bird genome sequenced

23.07.2015

The kiwi, national symbol of New Zealand, gives insights into the evolution of nocturnal animals

Its unusual biological characteristics make the flightless kiwi a unique kind of bird. Researchers of the University of Leipzig and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, have now sequenced the genetic code of this endangered species and have identified several sequence changes that underlie the kiwi’s adaptation to a nocturnal lifestyle:


Like all kiwi species, the Brown Kiwi (Apteryx mantelli) is adapted to living in darkness. The birds spend all day in a cave which they only leave at nightfall. In their nocturnal forays, they rely on smells and sounds - an unusual behaviour for birds.

© 123RF/Eric Isselee

They found several genes involved in colour vision to be inactivated and the diversity of odorant receptors to be higher than in other birds - suggesting an increased reliance on their sense of smell rather than vision for foraging. The study was published in the journal “Genome Biology”.

Kiwi have a number of features that make them interesting for study: They only have rudimentary wings, no tail and a very long beak with nostrils. They are mainly nocturnal with a low basal metabolic rate and the lowest body temperature among birds. To date there has been little genetic information available for this species that might help scientists to understand their unusual biology better.

An international team led by Torsten Schöneberg of the Institute of Biochemistry of the Medical Faculty at the University of Leipzig and Janet Kelso of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology have now sequenced the genome of the brown kiwi (Apteryx mantelli).

Their analyses show genetic changes that likely reflect adaptation to nocturnal life. Although mutations have inactivated some of the key genes involved in colour vision, the number of odorant receptor genes is expanded suggesting that the kiwi sense of smell is highly developed. These changes happened about 35 million years ago which is after the kiwi’s arrival in New Zealand.

“Already French botanist and zoologist Jean Baptiste de Lamarck, who lived in the 18th century, hypothesized that evolution works in accordance with a ‘use it or lose it’ principle. It is therefore very likely that the kiwi lost its colour vision since this was no longer needed for its new nocturnal lifestyle”, says first author Diana Le Duc, MD, at the University of Leipzig. “The kiwi’s sense of smell – which was required for foraging in the dark of the night – became more acute and the repertoire of odorant receptors increased adapting to a wider diversity of smells.”

DNA analyses of two kiwi individuals show, however, that according to first estimates there is little genetic variability in the population. This could further endanger the survival of this species and will have to be taken into account when planning future breeding programs. “The genome of the kiwi is an important resource for future comparative analyses with other extinct and living flightless birds”, says computational biologist Janet Kelso of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

The kiwi is the national symbol of New Zealand and belongs to a group of birds called ratites that also includes the extinguished New Zealand moa as well as flightless birds like ostrich, emu and rhea. Following human migration to New Zealand around 800 years ago, many of the local bird species became extinct. Despite intensive protection efforts the kiwi is highly endangered.


Contact

Dr. Diana LeDuc
Institute of Biochemistry, Medical Faculty

Universität Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 3550-544

Email: diana_leduc@eva.mpg.de


Prof. Dr. Torsten Schöneberg
Institute of Biochemistry, Medical Faculty

University of Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 9722-150

Email: torsten.schoeneberg@medizin.uni-leipzig.de

Janet Kelso
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 3550-552

Email: kelso@eva.mpg.de


Sandra Jacob
Press and Public Relations

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 3550-122

Fax: +49 341 3550-119

Email: info@eva.mpg.de


Original publication
Le Duc D., Renaud G., Krishnan A., Sällman Almén M., Huynen L., Prohaska S.J., Ongyerth M., Bitarello B.D., Schiöth H.B., Hofreiter M., Stadler P.F., Prüfer K., Lambert D., Kelso J., Schöneberg T.

Kiwi genome provides insights into evolution of a nocturnal lifestyle


Genome Biology, 23 July 2015 (doi: 10.1186/s13059-015-0711-4)

Dr. Diana LeDuc | Universität Leipzig

Further reports about: Biochemistry Evolutionary Kiwi Leipzig Max Planck Institute Medical genes odorant sense sense of smell species

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

nachricht CWRU researchers find a chemical solution to shrink digital data storage
22.06.2017 | Case Western Reserve University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

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...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

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...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

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...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

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)...

Im Focus: Optoelectronic Inline Measurement – Accurate to the Nanometer

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

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation

22.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Plant inspiration could lead to flexible electronics

22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences

A rhodium-based catalyst for making organosilicon using less precious metal

22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>