Nature

10
May

Scientists Sequence Macaw Genome

Researchers at Texas A&M University have sequenced the macaw genome by extracting blood from Neblina, a scarlet macaw at Iowa’s Blank Park Zoo. Keith Randall wrote about the study for TAMUtimes, Texas A&M’s online news publication. The article was then reprinted at Futurity.org. Here’s a snippet:

“The final analysis showed that there are about one billion DNA bases in the genome, which is about one-third of that found in mammals,” says Ian Tizard, of the Schubot Exotic Bird Health Center at Texas A&M University.

The genome also bore similarities to a chicken’s, Tizard added:

“But there are significant differences at both the genome and biological level. Macaws can fly great distances, while chickens can’t. In addition, brain development and volume are very different in macaws, which is unsurprising since they are very intelligent birds compared to chickens.

“Likewise, macaws can live many years, while chickens usually do not, and therefore, our macaw genome sequence may help shed light on the genetic factors that influence longevity and intelligence.”

Macaw longevity is matched by emotional and physical prosperity, as well—they demonstrate warmth toward humans and can fly as fast as 35 miles per hour. Perhaps, then, the sequenced genome will yield interesting results on several fronts.