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Influencia diferencial de la expresión de Slc7a11 y la condición corporal sobre la pigmentación producida por feomelanina en dos poblaciones de trepador azul Sitta europea con diferente riesgo de depredación

The expression of the gene Slc7a11 promotes the antioxidant capacity of cells by providing them with cysteine that can be used for the synthesis of glutathione (GSH), the most important intracellular antioxidant. In melanocytes, intracellular cysteine can also enter melanosomes and get incorporated in the pigment pheomelanin synthesis pathway, thus decreasing cysteine availability for GSH synthesis and potentially creating chronic oxidative stress. Therefore, this study hypothesized that a mechanism limiting the use of intramelanocytic cysteine for pheomelanin synthesis in environmental conditions generating oxidative stress may be physiologically advantageous and favored by natural selection. Evidence we searched of such a mechanism by comparing the influence of melanocytic Slc7a11 expression on pheomelanin?based pigmentation in developing Eurasian nuthatch Sitta europaea nestlings from two populations differing in predation risk, a natural source of oxidative stress. Pheomelanin synthesis and pigmentation tended to increase with Slc7a11 expression in the low?risk population as expected from the activity of this gene, but decreased with Slc7a11 expression in the high?risk population. The same was not observed in the expression of five other genes influencing pheomelanin synthesis without affecting cysteine availability in melanocytes. The influence of body condition on the intensity of pheomelanin?based pigmentation also differed between populations, being positive in the low?risk population and negative in the high?risk population. The resulting pigmentation of birds was more intense in the high?risk population. These findings suggest that birds perceiving high predation risk may limit the use of cysteine for pheomelanin synthesis, which becomes independent of Slc7a11 expression. Some birds may have thus evolved the ability to adjust their pigmentation phenotype to environmental stress. informacion[at] Galván & Sanz (2020) Differential influence of Slc7a11 expression and body condition on pheomelanin-based pigmentation in two Eurasian nuthatch Sitta europaea populations with different predation risk. J Avian Biol DOI 10.1111/jav.02275
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Asymmetric iris heterochromia in birds

Asymmetric iris heterochromia in birds

For the first time the unique coloured pattern of the iris of buttonquails (Turnicidae) is described. This unique pattern is due to the presence of a dark-brown crescent in the iris below the pupil, whose form and extent varies in response to light conditions. This dark crescent is present in the eyes of all individuals of Turnix species at every life stage, a consistency that has not been previously observed for the iridal marks found in other avian groups. This consistency suggests that the crescent-shaped spot in buttonquails' eyes is a character subjected to natural selection, probably related to light regulation. Although there is no direct evidence for the function of the dark crescent in the iris of buttonquails, since these birds usually live under the shady cover of low and partly open scrubland, grassland and farmland, it can be argued that the dark crescent may be an adaptation to exposure to sudden changes in light when the birds are foraging between dark shade beneath full cover and sunny conditions in the open. This hypothesis seems to be supported by the adaptability of the size and form of the dark crescent, and thus its suggested functionality, in response to changes in light intensity. In summary, the dark crescent of the iris may be a sophisticated system for improved vision under certain light exposure. informacion[at] Gutiérrez-Expósito (2018) Asymmetric iris heterochromia in birds: the dark crescent of buttonquails. J Ornithol