Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Songbirds may have 'borrowed' DNA to fuel migration

Date:
September 20, 2013
Source:
University of British Columbia
Summary:
A common songbird may have acquired genes from fellow migrating birds in order to travel greater distances, according to a new study.

The Audubon’s warbler (shown here) shares the same mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) with myrtle warblers.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of British Columbia

A common songbird may have acquired genes from fellow migrating birds in order to travel greater distances, according to a University of British Columbia study published this week in the journal Evolution.

While most birds either migrate or remain resident in one region, the Audubon's warbler, with habitat ranging from the Pacific Northwest to Mexico, exhibits different behaviours in different locations. The northern populations breed and migrate south for the winter, while southern populations have a tendency to stay put all year long.

Evolutionary biologists have long been puzzled by research that indicates some Audubon's warblers share the same mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) with myrtle warblers -- a different species of songbird that migrates annually to the southeastern U.S., Central America and the Caribbean -- even though they look dramatically different.

"Mitochondria are only passed down from mothers to their offspring," says David Toews, a PhD candidate in UBC's Department of Zoology. "So it's a very useful marker for differentiating species. In this case, finding two species of songbirds sharing the same mtDNA is very surprising, so we set out to find out why."

By analyzing genetic data and stable isotopes in feathers, and by measuring oxygen consumption of the mitochondria in their flight muscles, Toews and fellow researcher Milica Mandic pinpointed the precise geographical location near the Utah-Arizona border where the myrtle warblers' "wanderlust" genes displace the Audubon warbler's ancestral mitochondria. This region happens to also be the transition zone where we see a change in the migratory behaviour of Audubon's warblers.

"Because of its prominent role in reconstructing evolutionary relationships, people often forget that mitochondria actually have a very important function as the main energy generator of cells," says Toews. "Our findings suggest that over generations, the Audubon's warbler may have co-opted the myrtle's mitochondria to better power its own travels."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of British Columbia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. David P. L. Toews, Milica Mandic, Jeffrey G. Richards, Darren E. Irwin. Migration, Mitochondria and the Yellow-Rumped Warbler. Evolution, 2013; DOI: 10.1111/evo.12260

Cite This Page:

University of British Columbia. "Songbirds may have 'borrowed' DNA to fuel migration." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130920094750.htm>.
University of British Columbia. (2013, September 20). Songbirds may have 'borrowed' DNA to fuel migration. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130920094750.htm
University of British Columbia. "Songbirds may have 'borrowed' DNA to fuel migration." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130920094750.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins