Researchers Sequence Macaw Genome

Posted on May 11, 2013

Scarlet Macaq

Researchers at Texas A&M University have successfully sequenced the complete genome of a Scarlet macaw. The team was led by Dr. Christopher Seabury and Dr. Ian Tizard at the Schubot Exotic Bird Health Center in the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M. The bird selected for the sequencing was a female, named Neblina, who lives in the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines, Iowa.

Dr. Tizard said in a statement, "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. Birds have much less DNA than mammals primarily because they do not possess nearly as much repetitive DNA."

Dr. Tizard explains the importance of macaw genome sequencing in this video. A couple reasons are the longevity of the bird (50 to 75 years) and their intelligence. Take a look:

Macaws are found in tropical Central and South America. The number of macaws have been reduced due to trapping the pet trade and habitat loss from deforestation. There are 23 species of macaws. Some of these have already become extinct while others are endangered.

The research was published here in PLoS One.

Photo: Tambopata Research Center

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