Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Simple explanation for complex pattern of feather development

17.08.2005


Biologists testing a mathematical model of the mechanism birds use to control the growth of complex feathers found that plumed feather structures involve the coordination of at least two genes that activate and that inhibit barb growth.



"Understanding these mechanisms of feather growth gives a whole new perspective on the unique beauty of feathers," said Richard Prum, senior author on the study. Prum is the William Robertson Coe Professor of Ornithology, and Curator of Ornithology and Vertebrate Zoology at Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History.

An eclectic team of biologists used a combination of mathematical and molecular methods to reveal some of the secrets of branched feather growth, and propose how the unique complexity of feathers may have evolved. Ornithologist Prum led a team including anatomists Matthew Harris and John Fallon at the University of Wisconsin, statistician Scott Williamson at Cornell and Hans Meinhardt at the Max Plank Institute.


Their findings provide the best experimental evidence for a classical theory for growth of complex biological structures. In the 1950’s, Alan Turing, mathematician, pioneering computer scientist and code-breaker, proposed that repeated patterns could emerge through the interactions among chemical morphogens or molecules that cause things to develop -- an activator that makes things happen, and an inhibitor that suppresses the activator.

To test the model in feathers, Harris forced expression of the activator, Shh, or the inhibitor, Bmp2, in the skin of six-day old chick embryos by injecting them with a retrovirus. The results were seen in localized patches and demonstrated that a simple relationship between developmental genes could be the basis for formation of feather structures. This was the first documentation, in any plant or animal, that signaling molecules in development can actually behave as envisioned by Turing 50 years ago.

This work provides a key to some of these most basic questions of biology. The findings also indicate that more complex shafted feathers evolved from the simpler downy tufts by the addition of new players to the original activator-inhibitor pair. Prum is now following up on several clues in the search for these other molecular signals.

Janet Rettig Emanuel | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.yale.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New risk factors for anxiety disorders
24.02.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers
24.02.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>