IISER Bhopal conducts genetic research to understand how peacocks got their 'fabulous' plumage

IISER Bhopal’s research on peacocks will help in the conservation and protection of these birds.

IISER Bhopal conducts genetic research to understand how peacocks got their 'fabulous' plumage (Image Source: Careers360)IISER Bhopal conducts genetic research to understand how peacocks got their 'fabulous' plumage (Image Source: Careers360)

Tanuja Joshi | August 4, 2023 | 02:39 PM IST

NEW DELHI: Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Bhopal researchers from the MetaBioSys group conducted a research on peacocks and have for the first time constructed a genome assembly to understand the genetics of India's national bird.

The research has been published in the journal Heliyon. The paper has been co-authored by Vineet Sharma, associate professor, department of biological sciences, along with his research scholars Abhisek Chakraborty, Samuel Mondal and Shruti Mahajan from IISER Bhopal.

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In a recent study, the IISER Bhopal team focused on the Blue Peafowl, also known as the Indian Peacock, native to the Indian subcontinent and the Green Peafowl, found in Southeast Asia. They sought to understand the evolutionary and genetic reasons for their differential adaptability that makes the Blue Peafowl less endangered than the Green.

The findings of this study will provide a better understanding of the contrasting population sizes of Asian peafowl species. The research will help contribute to conservation strategies aimed at preserving and protecting these birds in their natural habitats by understanding the genetic secrets of peacocks as per the institute.

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According to IISER Bhopal, the researchers have constructed a high-quality genome assembly that will serve as a resource for future studies on avian genetics and evolution. It will enable scientists to study the genetic variations and adaptations of the peafowls.

Researchers found that genes related to nervous system development, immunity, and skeletal muscle development have undergone adaptive evolution in both bird species.

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In an earlier study, the research team constructed the first draft assembly of this bird species to perform a genome-wide analysis, comparing the peacock genome with those of five other bird species.

Vineet K Sharma, associate professor, department of biological sciences, IISER Bhopal, said,“Our findings highlight the distinct genomic divergence between the two Asian peafowl species and provide valuable genomic clues to explain their contrasting population sizes.”

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