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Impairment of mixed melanin-based pigmentation in parrots

Parrots and allies (Order Psittaciformes) have evolved an exclusive capacity to synthesize polyene pigments called psittacofulvins at feather follicles, which allows them to produce a striking diversity of pigmentation phenotypes. Melanins are polymers constituting the most abundant pigments in animals, and the sulphurated form (pheomelanin) produces colors that are similar to those produced by psittacofulvins. However, the differential contribution of these pigments to psittaciform phenotypic diversity has not been investigated. Given the color redundancy, and physiological limitations associated to pheomelanin synthesis, this study assumed that the latter would be avoided by psittaciform birds. This hypothesis was tested by using Raman spectroscopy to identify pigments in feathers exhibiting colors suspicious of being produced by pheomelanin (i.e., dull red, yellow and grey- and green-brownish) in 26 species from the three main lineages of Psittaciformes. The non-sulphurated melanin form (eumelanin) were detected in black, grey and brown plumage patches, and psittacofulvins in red, yellow and green patches, but no evidence of pheomelanin was found. As natural melanins are assumed to be composed of eumelanin and pheomelanin in varying ratios, these results represent the first report of impairment of mixed melanin-based pigmentation in animals. Given that psittaciforms also avoid the uptake of circulating carotenoid pigments, these birds seem to have evolved a capacity to avoid functional redundancy between pigments, likely by regulating follicular gene expression. The study provides the first vibrational characterization of different psittacofulvin-based colors and thus helps to determine the relative polyene chain length in these pigments, which is related to their antireductant protection activity. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es: Neves et al (2020) Impairment of mixed melanin-based pigmentation in parrots. J Experim Biol. DOI 10.1242/jeb.225912


https://jeb.biologists.org/content/early/2020/05/08/jeb.225912
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Effects of source and convergent selection on invasions

Effects of source and convergent selection on invasions

While genetic diversity is hypothesized to be an important factor explaining invasion success, there is no consensus yet on how variation in source populations or demographic processes affects invasiveness. Mitochondrial DNA haplotypic and microsatellite genotypic data were used to investigate levels of genetic variation and reconstruct the history of replicate invasions on three continents in a globally invasive bird, the monk parakeet. Genetic data indicated a localized source area for most sampled invasive populations, with limited evidence for admixing of native source populations. This pattern largely coincides with historical data on pet trade exports. However, the invasive populations are genetically more similar than predicted from the export data alone. The extent of bottleneck effects varied among invasive populations. The observed low genetic diversity, evidence of demographic contraction and restricted source area do not support the hypothesis that invasion is favoured by the mixing and recombining of genetic variation from multiple source populations. Instead, they suggest that reduced genetic variation through random processes may not inhibit successful establishment and invasion in this species. However, convergent selection across invasive sites could also explain the observed patterns of reduction and similarity in genetic variation and/or the restricted source area. In general, the alternative explanation of intraspecific variation in invasive potential among genotypes or geographic areas is neglected, but warrants more attention as it could inform comparative studies and management of biological invaders. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es Edelaar et al (2015) Shared genetic diversity across the global invasive range of the monk parakeet suggests a common restricted geographic origin and the possibility of convergent selection Mol Ecol (2015) doi: 10.1111/mec.13157