The genome of a songbird

Wesley C. Warren, David F. Clayton, Hans Ellegren, Arthur P. Arnold, Ladeana W. Hillier, Axel Künstner, Steve Searle, Simon White, Albert J Vilella, Susan Fairley, Andreas Heger, Lesheng Kong, Chris P Ponting, Erich D. Jarvis, Claudio V. Mello, Pat Minx, Peter Lovell, Tarciso A F Velho, Margaret Ferris, Christopher N. BalakrishnanSaurabh Sinha, Charles Blatti, Sarah E. London, Yun Li, Ya Chi Lin, Julia George, Jonathan Sweedler, Bruce Southey, Preethi Gunaratne, Michael Watson, Kiwoong Nam, Niclas Backström, Linnea Smeds, Benoit Nabholz, Yuichiro Itoh, Osceola Whitney, Andreas R. Pfenning, Jason Howard, Martin Völker, Bejamin M. Skinner, Darren K Griffin, Liang Ye, William M. McLaren, Paul Flicek, Victor Quesada, Gloria Velasco, Carlos López-Otín, Xose S. Puente, Tsviya Olender, Doron Lancet, Arian F A Smit, Robert Hubley, Miriam K. Konkel, Jerilyn A. Walker, Mark A. Batzer, Wanjun Gu, David D. Pollock, Lin Chen, Ze Cheng, Evan E Eichler, Jessica Stapley, Jon Slate, Robert Ekblom, Tim Birkhead, Terry Burke, David W Burt, Constance Scharff, Iris Adam, Hugues Richard, Marc Sultan, Alexey Soldatov, Hans Lehrach, Scott V. Edwards, Shiaw-Pyng Yang, Xiaoching Li, Tina Graves, Lucinda Fulton, Joanne Nelson, Asif Chinwalla, Shunfeng Hou, Elaine R. Mardis, Richard K Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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The zebra finch is an important model organism in several fields with unique relevance to human neuroscience. Like other songbirds, the zebra finch communicates through learned vocalizations, an ability otherwise documented only in humans and a few other animals and lacking in the chickenthe only bird with a sequenced genome until now. Here we present a structural, functional and comparative analysis of the genome sequence of the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata), which is a songbird belonging to the large avian order Passeriformes. We find that the overall structures of the genomes are similar in zebra finch and chicken, but they differ in many intrachromosomal rearrangements, lineage-specific gene family expansions, the number of long-terminal-repeat- based retrotransposons, and mechanisms of sex chromosome dosage compensation. We show that song behaviour engages gene regulatory networks in the zebra finch brain, altering the expression of long non-coding RNAs, microRNAs, transcription factors and their targets. We also show evidence for rapid molecular evolution in the songbird lineage of genes that are regulated during song experience. These results indicate an active involvement of the genome in neural processes underlying vocal communication and identify potential genetic substrates for the evolution and regulation of this behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number7289
Pages (from-to)757-762
Publication statusPublished - 1. Apr 2010
Externally publishedYes


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