This finch genome, the first of the BGI-Genome 10K collaboration to be made available through the UCSC Genome Browser, represents both a scientific and a symbolic advancement, according to Duke University associate professor Erich Jarvis, who studies the neurobiology of vocal learning in songbirds.
"The scientific advancement," Jarvis said, "is that it will allow us to investigate the genomes of a group of closely related species with a significant amount of diversity on an island population, allowing us to potentially better understand the genetics of trait evolution."
Jarvis added, "It is symbolic because it was the diversity of phenotypes in these finches that contributed to Darwin's theory of evolution."
Endemic to the subtropical or tropical dry forests and shrublands of the Galapagos Islands, this species evolves rapidly in response to environmental changes.
The BGI's associate director of research, Goujie Zhang, said, "These finches are of great historical significance, but when Darwin first studied these birds, he was unlikely to have envisioned how this species would become a perfect model to study evolution in action."
Zhang said, "Having the reference genome of this species has opened the door for carrying out studies that can look at real-time evolutionary changes on a genomic level of all of these enigmatic species."
Jarvis said this new genome will help us understand the evolution of vocal learning, "The availability of the Geospiza fortis will allow us to validate findings so far only found in the zebra finch genome."
Jarvis said these include genes with positively selected mutations involved with the vocal learning trait in f
|Contact: Jia Liu|