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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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Melanins and melanogenesis: bioinspired solutions for human health and technological applications

Melanins and melanogenesis: bioinspired solutions for human health and technological applications

During the past decade, melanins and melanogenesis have attracted growing interest for a broad range of biomedical and technological applications. The burst of polydopamine-based multifunctional coatings in materials science is just one example, and the list may be expanded to include melanin thin films for organic electronics and bioelectronics, drug delivery systems, functional nanoparticles and biointerfaces, sunscreens, environmental remediation devices. Despite considerable advances, applied research on melanins and melanogenesis is still far from being mature. A closer intersectoral interaction between research centers is essential to raise the interests and increase the awareness of the biomedical, biomaterials science and hi-tech sectors of the manifold opportunities offered by pigment cells and related metabolic pathways. Starting from a survey of biological roles and functions, the present review aims at providing an interdisciplinary perspective of melanin pigments and related pathway with a view to showing how it is possible to translate current knowledge about physical and chemical properties and control mechanisms into new bioinspired solutions for biomedical, dermocosmetic and technological applications. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es: d'Ischia et al (2015) Melanins and Melanogenesis: from pigment cells to human health and technological applications. Pigment Cell Melanoma Res DOI: 10.1111/pcmr.12393


http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/pcmr.12393/abstract