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 study demonstrates that p38 protein regulates the formation of new blood vessels
17.07.2019 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)

nachricht For bacteria, the neighbors co-determine which cell dies first: The physiology of survival
17.07.2019 | Technische Universität München

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Megakaryocytes act as „bouncers“ restraining cell migration in the bone marrow

Scientists at the University Würzburg and University Hospital of Würzburg found that megakaryocytes act as “bouncers” and thus modulate bone marrow niche properties and cell migration dynamics. The study was published in July in the Journal “Haematologica”.

Hematopoiesis is the process of forming blood cells, which occurs predominantly in the bone marrow. The bone marrow produces all types of blood cells: red...

Im Focus: Artificial neural network resolves puzzles from condensed matter physics: Which is the perfect quantum theory?

For some phenomena in quantum many-body physics several competing theories exist. But which of them describes a quantum phenomenon best? A team of researchers from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and Harvard University in the United States has now successfully deployed artificial neural networks for image analysis of quantum systems.

Is that a dog or a cat? Such a classification is a prime example of machine learning: artificial neural networks can be trained to analyze images by looking...

Im Focus: Extremely hard yet metallically conductive: Bayreuth researchers develop novel material with high-tech prospects

An international research group led by scientists from the University of Bayreuth has produced a previously unknown material: Rhenium nitride pernitride. Thanks to combining properties that were previously considered incompatible, it looks set to become highly attractive for technological applications. Indeed, it is a super-hard metallic conductor that can withstand extremely high pressures like a diamond. A process now developed in Bayreuth opens up the possibility of producing rhenium nitride pernitride and other technologically interesting materials in sufficiently large quantity for their properties characterisation. The new findings are presented in "Nature Communications".

The possibility of finding a compound that was metallically conductive, super-hard, and ultra-incompressible was long considered unlikely in science. It was...

Im Focus: Modelling leads to the optimum size for platinum fuel cell catalysts: Activity of fuel cell catalysts doubled

An interdisciplinary research team at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has built platinum nanoparticles for catalysis in fuel cells: The new size-optimized catalysts are twice as good as the best process commercially available today.

Fuel cells may well replace batteries as the power source for electric cars. They consume hydrogen, a gas which could be produced for example using surplus...

Im Focus: The secret of mushroom colors

Mushrooms: Darker fruiting bodies in cold climates

The fly agaric with its red hat is perhaps the most evocative of the diverse and variously colored mushroom species. Hitherto, the purpose of these colors was...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on UV LED Technologies & Applications – ICULTA 2020 | Call for Abstracts

24.06.2019 | Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Tracking down climate change with radar eyes

17.07.2019 | Earth Sciences

Researchers build transistor-like gate for quantum information processing -- with qudits

17.07.2019 | Information Technology

A new material for the battery of the future, made in UCLouvain

17.07.2019 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>