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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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Wetland salinity induces carry-over effects in the physical conditions of a long-distance migrant

Wetland salinity induces carry-over effects in the physical conditions of a long-distance migrant

Salinization is having a major impact on wetlands and its biota worldwide. Specifically, many migratory animals that rely on wetlands are increasingly exposed to elevated salinity on their nonbreeding grounds. Experimental evidence suggests that physiological challenges associated with increasing salinity may disrupt self-maintenance processes in these species. Nonetheless, the potential role of salinity as a driver of ecological carry-over effects remains unstudied. This study investigated the extent to which the use of saline wetlands during winter – inferred from feather stable isotope values – induces residual effects that carry over and influence physiological traits relevant to fitness in black-tailed godwits Limosa limosa limosa on their northward migration. Overwintering males and females were segregated by wetland salinity in West Africa, with females mostly occupying freshwater wetlands. The use of these wetlands along a gradient of salinities was associated with differences in immune responsiveness to phytohaemagglutinin and sized-corrected body mass in godwits staging in southern Europe during northward migration – 3,000?km from the nonbreeding grounds – but in males only. Indeed, males that used more saline wetlands in winter arrived at staging sites in poorer body condition than males that used freshwater wetlands. These findings provide a window onto the processes by which wetland salinity can induce carry-over effects and can help predict how migratory species should respond to future climate-induced increases in salinity. informacion[at]ebd.csic. Masero et al (2017) Wetland salinity induces sex-dependent carry-over effects on the individual performance of a long-distance migrant. Sci Rep 7: 6867 DOI 10.1038/s41598-017-07258-w


https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-07258-w