Chicken genes are multitaskers, say scientists

Bird genes are multitaskers, say scientists

Scientists from the College of Sheffield have discovered that though female and male birds have an nearly an identical set of genes, they perform in a different way in every intercourse by a mechanism referred to as different splicing.

Bird genes are multitaskers, say scientists
Credit score: College of Sheffield

Men and women of the identical hen species could be strikingly completely different. For instance, along with elementary variations in copy, the sexes can present profound variation in conduct, colouration, metabolism, illness incidence and life historical past. The staff wished to grasp how these outstanding variations develop regardless of men and women sharing largely the identical DNA.

Thea Rogers, Ph.D. pupil on the College of Sheffield and lead writer of the research, stated: “One notable instance of variations between female and male birds is within the peafowl, peacocks have magnificent plumage, whereas the feminine peahen is comparatively uninteresting. The peacock’s lengthy tail and vibrant colors advanced to assist them appeal to mates, however having such eye-catching appears can include negatives equivalent to making them extra noticeable to predators.

“Options like this are useful to the males however might not be useful for females, so birds should discover a solution to evolve completely different traits. We predicted that the key to those variations should lie in understanding how the identical genes are expressed and performance in a different way in men and women.”

The staff studied the genomes of a number of hen species to grasp how they expressed these completely different qualities in men and women.


Genes encode proteins, massive complicated molecules which drive processes within the physique and are answerable for the perform and construction of the physique’s tissues. Earlier than genes can be utilized to make proteins, their DNA sequence is transcribed into RNA, an middleman molecule that comprises the directions for making proteins.

The scientists discovered that men and women differ in how bits of RNA are stitched collectively, that means that the identical gene can produce numerous distinct proteins and capabilities relying on which intercourse the gene is expressed in. This course of is named different splicing.

Dr. Alison Wright, a researcher on the College of Sheffield and senior writer of the research, stated: “It’s seemingly that this genetic course of is de facto vital for producing biodiversity, not solely in birds however throughout the entire animal kingdom.”

The research, revealed in Molecular Biology & Evolution, revealed tons of of hen genes that use this technique to allow the evolution of intercourse variations. The researchers confirmed that these genes have advanced remarkably quickly because of the completely different choice pressures skilled by men and women.

Supply: College of Sheffield [September 28, 2020]

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