News News

Unique evolution of vitamin A as an external pigment in tropical starlings

Pigments are largely responsible for the appearance of organisms. Most biological pigments derive from the metabolism of shikimic acid (melanins), mevalonic acid (carotenoids) or levulinic acid (porphyrins), which thus generate the observed diversity of external phenotypes. Starlings are generally dark birds despite iridescence in feathers, but 10 % of species have evolved plumage pigmentation comprising bright colors that are known to be produced only by carotenoids. However, using micro-Raman spectroscopy, it was discovered that the bright yellow plumage coloration of one of these species, the Afrotropical golden-breasted starling Cosmopsarus regius, is not produced by carotenoids, but by vitamin A (all-trans-retinol). This is the first organism reported to deposit significant amounts of vitamin A in its integument and use it as a body pigment. Phylogenetic reconstructions reveal that the retinol-based pigmentation of the golden-breasted starling has independently appeared in the starling family from dark ancestors. This study thus unveils a unique evolution of a new class of external pigments comprised by retinoids. información[at]ebd.csic.es: Galván et al (2019) Unique evolution of vitamin A as an external pigment in tropical starlings. J Exp Biol doi: 10.1242/jeb.205229


http://jeb.biologists.org/content/early/2019/05/16/jeb.205229
Average (0 Votes)

Latest News Latest News

A timeline for the urbanization of wild birds: The case of the lesser kestrel

The Lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni) evolved as a separate species in the Old-World kestrel radiation starting in the late Miocene. Given that the first cities were erected in the Holocene, this...

Stripes of prey species associated with group living

Grouping is a widespread form of predator defence, with individuals in groups often performing evasive collective movements in response to attack by predators. Individuals in these groups use...

Seed dispersal by neotropical waterfowl depends on bird species and seasonality

Waterbirds have an important ecological function as vectors of plant dispersal between different wetlands. In the Neotropical region, there is very limited information about this dispersal. In...

Impact of fisheries on sea turtles

The bycatch of sea turtles by industrial fisheries is receiving an increasing attention in recent years due to the high impact it causes on these endangered species. This issue was evaluated in...