Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Darwin was wrong about the wild origin of the chicken

29.02.2008
Charles Darwin maintained that the domesticated chicken derives from the red jungle fowl, but new research from Uppsala University now shows that the wild origins of the chicken are more complicated than that.

The researchers mapped the genes that give most domesticated chickens yellow legs and found to their surprise that this genetic heredity derives from a closely related species, the grey jungle fowl. The study is being published today in the Web edition of PLoS Genetics.

“Our studies show that even though most of the genes in domesticated fowls come from the red jungle fowl, at least one other species must have contributed, specifically the grey jungle fowl,” says Jonas Eriksson, a doctoral student at Uppsala University.

It is most likely the case that the grey jungle fowl was crossed with an early form of the domesticated chicken. The genes for yellow skin are spread among billions of domesticated chickens around the world. Darwin’s studies of domesticated animals were of key importance to his theory of evolution, and he also explained the wild origins of domesticated animals.

“What’s ironic is that Darwin thought that more than one wild species had contributed to the development of the dog, but that the chicken came from only one wild species, the red jungle fowl. Now it turns out that it’s just the opposite way around,” says Greger Larson, a researcher at Uppsala University and Durham University in England.

The yellow leg color is a result of fodder: the more yellow carotenoids there are in the feed, the yellower the legs. The gene that these researchers have now identified codes for an enzyme that breaks down carotenoids and releases vitamin A. This gene is shut down in skin but fully active in other tissues in chickens with yellow legs. The consequence is that yellow carotenoids are stored in the skin in these chickens. This is called a regulatory mutation since the coding sequence of the gene is intact, but its regulation is modified.

“Our study is a clear example of the importance of regulatory mutations in the course of evolution. What we don’t know is why humans bred this characteristic. Maybe chickens with bright yellow legs were seen as being healthier or more fertile than other chickens, or were we simply charmed by their distinct appearance?” wonders Professor Leif Andersson, who directed the project.

The scientists believe that the same gene may well be of significance in explaining the pink color of the flamingo, the yellow leg color of many birds of prey, and the reddish meat of the salmon. These characteristics are all caused by carotenoids. The gene may also influence the skin color of humans to some extent.

Anneli Waara | alfa
Further information:
http://genetics.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371%2Fjournal.pgen.1000010.eor
http://www.uu.se

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Cereals use chemical defenses in a multifunctional manner against different herbivores
06.12.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie

nachricht Can rice filter water from ag fields?
05.12.2018 | American Society of Agronomy

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

Im Focus: Three components on one chip

Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.

Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...

Im Focus: Substitute for rare earth metal oxides

New Project SNAPSTER: Novel luminescent materials by encapsulating phosphorescent metal clusters with organic liquid crystals

Nowadays energy conversion in lighting and optoelectronic devices requires the use of rare earth oxides.

Im Focus: A bit of a stretch... material that thickens as it's pulled

Scientists have discovered the first synthetic material that becomes thicker - at the molecular level - as it is stretched.

Researchers led by Dr Devesh Mistry from the University of Leeds discovered a new non-porous material that has unique and inherent "auxetic" stretching...

Im Focus: The force of the vacuum

Scientists from the Theory Department of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL) in Hamburg have shown through theoretical calculations and computer simulations that the force between electrons and lattice distortions in an atomically thin two-dimensional superconductor can be controlled with virtual photons. This could aid the development of new superconductors for energy-saving devices and many other technical applications.

The vacuum is not empty. It may sound like magic to laypeople but it has occupied physicists since the birth of quantum mechanics.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

Expert Panel on the Future of HPC in Engineering

03.12.2018 | Event News

Inaugural "Virtual World Tour" scheduled for december

28.11.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A new molecular player involved in T cell activation

07.12.2018 | Life Sciences

High-temperature electronics? That's hot

07.12.2018 | Materials Sciences

Supercomputers without waste heat

07.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>