Date: April 1, 2019
Source: University of Vienna
Birds-of-paradise are a group of songbird species, and are known for their magnificent male plumage and bewildering sexual display. Now, an international collaborative work involving Dept. of Molecular Evolution and Development of University of Vienna, Zhejiang University of China, and Swedish Museum of Natural History analyzed all together 11 songbird species genomes, including those of five bird-of-paradise species, and reconstructed the evolutionary history of their sex chromosomes.
Birds have an opposite type of sex chromosomes to that of mammals. That is, females have one Z chromosome and one female-specific W chromosome, while males have two Z chromosomes. The W chromosome is much smaller and gene-poor, similar to the Y chromosome of human. By sequencing the female songbird genomes, the researchers now uncovered the details of how Z and W chromosomes had become separated for their evolutionary trajectories, and which factors dictate the fates of the genes on the W chromosome.