July 16, 2013 — Scientists from Griffith University have taken part in an international study which has revealed the genetic secrets of how a small bird can survive in one of the most hostile environments on earth.
The ground tit (Parus humilis), lives in the Tibetan plateau, the largest high-altitude land mass in the world. This study has found molecular signatures in the ground tit genome which reveal how it copes with the extreme living conditions of this habitat.
Professor David Lambert and Dr Sankar Subramanian from Griffith University's Environmental Futures Centre took part in the study.
"We have long known that these birds are well adapted to living with low oxygen levels, typical of high elevation, but until now we have had only a limited understanding of the genetic background of these adaptations," Dr Subramanian said.
"In this study we have identified the genetic modifications of the species which make this possible," he said.