INTERESTING FEATHER TRAITS :
The Genetic Basis Study

    The Silkie has been subjected to human selection leading to remarkable phenotypic changes in morphology, physiology and behavior.  Identifying the genetic changes underlying these developments will provide new insight into general mechanisms by which genetic variation shapes phenotypic diversity.  Genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-trait association analysis has been used to detect genomic regions showing significant association with hyperpigmentation (Fm), crest (Cr), polydactyly (Po), silky feathering or hookless (h), feathered legs (Pti), vulture hock (V), rose comb (R), and duplex comb (D).  


    The crest phenotype is characterized by a tuft of elongated feathers atop the head. A similar phenotype is also seen in several wild bird species.  Homozygosity for Crest has been associated with cerebral hernia that causes malformation of the cranium.  Moreover, ptilopody is a phenotype characterized by feathers present on the shank, feet, and toes.  Identification of this developmental mutation may facilitate the examination of the cellular and genetic mechanisms underlying feather origin and evolution. In addition, silkiness is also referred to as hookless, which is known to be directed by a lack of barbicel formation on the highly branched structure of the feather. It is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait.  Identification of this mutation may help untangle the cellular mechanisms in the development of feathers.. Given the genetic tools I have, I have cloned the genes and prepared for functional validations. The results from my studies will significantly increase our understanding of the complex molecular and cellular events in feather development processes and provided a foundation for future studies on the functions of these genes in other animals.

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