by Manupriya on 4 June 2018
A team of researchers has sequenced the genome of India’s national bird, the peacock.
The genome analysis reveals 99 genes that are unique to peacocks. These genes are not present in other evolutionarily related birds such as turkey and chicken.
These unique genes could be responsible for peacock’s feathers and its long life span.
After a two-year long effort, a team of researchers from IISER-Bhopal has been able to sequence the genome of India’s national bird, the peacock (Pavo cristatus). Knowledge of the genome can provide insight into the genetic reasons that enable peacocks to have ornate feathers and fly despite their weight – two characteristics of the peacock that have been puzzling scientists.
The researchers have made their findings publicly available on the research pre-print server bioRXiv (pronounced bio archive). They also hope to publish their findings in a peer-reviewed journal, soon.
The study revealed that the entire peacock genome consists of 1.1 billion base pairs (base pairs are units of DNA) and codes for a total of 15970 genes. When these genes were compared with those of closely related birds like chicken and turkey, the researchers found that up to 99 genes in peacock are strikingly different.
Most of these ‘different’ genes are involved in early embryonic development or in providing immunity to the bird. These genes could also be reason behind the “unusual size and structure of peacock feathers and its higher longevity,” said lead researcher Vineet K Sharma, an associate professor at the Department of Biological Sciences, IISER Bhopal.