Thursday, August 6, 2009

Tiny Genome, big Personality

Hummingbirds have the smallest genomes of all birds, report T. Ryan Gregory and his colleagues in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Apparently, genome size is related to metabolic activity...having to do with red blood cell function. I don't quite understand this, since, most red blood cells don't contain DNA at all. But perhaps in birds, they do? In any case, hummingbirds, which we all know beat the wings incredibly fast, 50-200 beats per second! That has got to take a lot of energy.

Budgies frantically flap their wings, while stationary, once in a while, but not at a particularly impressive speed. I reckon their genomes are pretty big, if that has even been determined. I couldn't find any scientific literature on the subject, though a number of viruses affecting budgies have been sequenced...

People have studied the genetics of budgie color to some degree in a mendelian fashion though not moleculary: there is a good discussion of this on wikipedia.

For a great picture of an Anna's hummingbird, check out Black Cormorant's recent post!

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The Happy Couple

The Happy Couple
Sutcliffe and Maryann in early 2007