News News

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
Average (0 Votes)

Latest News Latest News

Back

Invasive plants and urban development: a bad combination for coastal vegetation

Invasive plants and urban development: a bad combination for coastal vegetation

Land-use intensification and biological invasions are two of the most important global change pressures driving biodiversity loss. However, their combined impacts on biological communities have been seldom explored, which may result in misleading ecological assessments or mitigation actions. Based on an extensive field survey of 445 paired invaded and control plots of coastal vegetation in SW Spain, the joint effects of land-use intensification (agricultural and urban intensification) and invasion on the taxonomic and functional richness, mean plant height and leaf area of native plants were explored. The survey covered five invasive species with contrasting functional similarity and competitive ability in relation to the native community. The response of native communities for the overall and invader-specific datasets was modelled, and it was determined whether invader-native functional differences could influence the combined impacts of land-use intensification and invasion. Overall, urban intensification reduced taxonomic richness more strongly at invaded plots (synergistic interactive effects). In contrast, functional richness loss caused by urban intensification was less pronounced at invaded plots (antagonistic interactive effects). Overall models showed also that urban intensification led to reduced mean leaf area, while agriculture was linked to higher mean plant height. When exploring invader-specific models, the combined effects of agricultural and urban intensification with invasion were found to be heterogeneous. At invaded plots, invader-native functional differences accounted for part of this variability. These findings demonstrate the importance of considering the interactive effects of global change pressures for a better assessment and management of ecosystems. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es: Gutiérrez-Cánovas et al (2020) Combined effects of land-use intensification and plant invasion on native communities. Oecologia DOI 10.1007/s00442-020-04603-1


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31982953