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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Thought some of you might be able to help out with this - at present they're looking at DNA from stable breeds and not breed crosses or pet birds to get a base line.
===========================================
Pigeon Genetics Project

Michael D. Shapiro, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, University of Utah

[email protected], (801) 581-5690



Elissa Mulroy

Undergraduate Researcher

[email protected], (801) 581-6812



WHY STUDY PIGEON GENETICS?

Pigeons show a staggering amount of variation within a single species. In fact, as Charles Darwin noted, the striking differences between different breeds within this species approaches the magnitude of differences usually seen between completely different species of birds. Ever since the time pigeons were domesticated at least 6500 years ago, breeders have selected for dramatic differences in many traits in well over 300 recognized breeds. We are interested in learning more about the genes that control color diversity in pigeons, as well as other differences in skeletal structure, physiology, and behavior. We will do this by using genetic techniques that are similar to the methods used in humans to track down the genes responsible for susceptibility to cancers and other genetic diseases.


WE NEED YOUR HELP!

DNA samples

In order to get started, we will need a large number of DNA samples from as many different breeds as possible. We will extract DNA from feathers. We are asking you to help with this project by sending feather samples to us through the mail. We will provide you with addressed and stamped envelopes.

The ideal feather sample would be: (1) as large as possible (tail, wing , or large body feathers), (2) freshly plucked, (3) and contain 5 or more feathers per bird. It is critical that feather samples from different individual birds stay in separate envelopes.

One of our first tasks is to see which breeds have the most genetic information in common. This will give us a good idea about which breeds are related to each other, and possibly allow us to trace the ancestry of breeds whose origins are not well understood. Thus far, we have worked closely with the Utah Pigeon Club to gather over 200 DNA samples from over 30 different breeds. We need to dramatically increase the number of birds and breeds in our study for it to be successful.

If you would like to donate feather samples to be included in this project, please contact us at the phone number or email address below. We will provide envelopes and instructions for mailing.

STAYING INVOLVED

We hope this study will benefit the pigeon hobbyist community as well. Our work will us help understand the history of different breeds, and potentially allow genetic testing for relationships among individual birds and breeds. The Utah Pigeon Club will host the NPA Grand National in Salt Lake City in January of 2010. We will be attending this show and will be happy to provide updates on our project and answer any questions that you might have. If you have any questions before that time, please feel free to contact us at the email address listed below.



Thank you for your interest and assistance!



Contact information:



For envelopes and instructions to mail feather samples:

Elissa Mulroy

[email protected]

(801) 581-6812



General questions about the project:

Dr. Mike Shapiro

[email protected]

(801) 581-5690



Shapiro lab website:

http://www.biology.utah.edu/shapiro/

(most of the information on this site deals with our other work on fish genetics)
 

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Thanks Bluecheck, i got your email... five large feathers from tail or wing? Is there a way to do it where thier flight wont be affected?
 

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Thanks Bluecheck, i got your email... five large feathers from tail or wing? Is there a way to do it where thier flight wont be affected?
The one way you can least effect it is pull equal numbers of feathers on each side of the bird. For example if you pull the 3rd, 4th, and 5th flight on the left wing, you'd then pull the 3rd, 4th, and 5th on the right wing too. Same thing with the left and right side of the tail. That way you'll at least have a balanced bird.
 

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Can they not get the DNA from a feather that's already fallen out? Why do they have to be plucked? :(
I know it says "freshly plucked", but would they REALLY know the difference? What's going to happen to the feather after it fall out of the bird that isn't going to happen while it's in the mail?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
As I understand it, and I may be in error, when you pluck you get the DNA fresh. If it's old and fallen, there is degredation in it that may not make it useable. Not sure - email them and ask and let us know.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
As for plucking so as not to damage flight - I'd go with two feathers on both outsides of the tail and one in the middle.
 

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Can they not get the DNA from a feather that's already fallen out? Why do they have to be plucked? :(
I know it says "freshly plucked", but would they REALLY know the difference? What's going to happen to the feather after it fall out of the bird that isn't going to happen while it's in the mail?
Renee, it's says they want 4 or 5 feathers from one bird. If you just wait for them to fall out, how could you be sure they were all from the same bird?
Seems kinda mean to just pull out their feathers though.:eek:
 

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Renee, it's says they want 4 or 5 feathers from one bird. If you just wait for them to fall out, how could you be sure they were all from the same bird?
Seems kinda mean to just pull out their feathers though.:eek:
Well, for me personally, I can tell a lot of times which pigeon a feather came from, simply by it's color. I don't intend to go plucking my birds feathers, so.......the majority of my birds have already dropped most of their flights, gone through a major body molt as well as dropping and replacing tail feathers, so even if I WAS inclined to pluck, I wouldn't do it because most anything I would pluck would be a new feather anyway.
I've also been in the loft many times when a bird would fly across the room and drop a feather, so of course I know exactly which bird it came from.
I guess someone who's got lots of birds wouldn't know which bird it came from.
Maybe it was a dumb question to begin with. :rolleyes:
 

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I don't like plucking feathers either, cause I know it's not comfortable for the birds...but...it is for a pretty good cause, in my opinion. But then again this is coming from the genetics nerd :rolleyes: It's almost like the pigeon version of giving blood? :p Except a little more uncomfortable?
 

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Wonder if it is for a pretty good cause by the pigeons standards?
In my loft we voted. 19 nays. The nays have it! There'll be no feather plucking around here.
 

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Well, for me personally, I can tell a lot of times which pigeon a feather came from, simply by it's color. I don't intend to go plucking my birds feathers, so.......the majority of my birds have already dropped most of their flights, gone through a major body molt as well as dropping and replacing tail feathers, so even if I WAS inclined to pluck, I wouldn't do it because most anything I would pluck would be a new feather anyway.
I've also been in the loft many times when a bird would fly across the room and drop a feather, so of course I know exactly which bird it came from.
I guess someone who's got lots of birds wouldn't know which bird it came from.
Maybe it was a dumb question to begin with. :rolleyes:
Often I can tell too. Sometimes though, it's too close to call.:p Imagine in a loft full of white homers? Unless each one came with a signature, you would have no way of knowing. I don't think the question was dumb.
 

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They can get DNA also from blood. But that would be a hassle to us. The next best thing is the fresh feathers. DNA can degrade so it is best if fresh. I'll bet Elissa is getting her degree with this project as part of that course. It would be awesome to see the results. I am thinking of having a phylogenetic tree or evolutionary tree. This study can also help know those family/strain which we talk about in homers if they choose. They can do that by gathering DNA from the ones that we think is a family and compare it with another family or controls.

I also see potential business ventures as well. They can provide test kit to know whether the birds you got are actually from the same family/strain. So many possibilities!
 

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Hi Frank

Thought some of you might be able to help out with this - at present they're looking at DNA from stable breeds and not breed crosses or pet birds to get a base line.
===========================================
Pigeon Genetics Project

Michael D. Shapiro, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, University of Utah

[email protected], (801) 581-5690



Elissa Mulroy

Undergraduate Researcher

[email protected], (801) 581-6812



WHY STUDY PIGEON GENETICS?

Pigeons show a staggering amount of variation within a single species. In fact, as Charles Darwin noted, the striking differences between different breeds within this species approaches the magnitude of differences usually seen between completely different species of birds. Ever since the time pigeons were domesticated at least 6500 years ago, breeders have selected for dramatic differences in many traits in well over 300 recognized breeds. We are interested in learning more about the genes that control color diversity in pigeons, as well as other differences in skeletal structure, physiology, and behavior. We will do this by using genetic techniques that are similar to the methods used in humans to track down the genes responsible for susceptibility to cancers and other genetic diseases.


WE NEED YOUR HELP!

DNA samples

In order to get started, we will need a large number of DNA samples from as many different breeds as possible. We will extract DNA from feathers. We are asking you to help with this project by sending feather samples to us through the mail. We will provide you with addressed and stamped envelopes.

The ideal feather sample would be: (1) as large as possible (tail, wing , or large body feathers), (2) freshly plucked, (3) and contain 5 or more feathers per bird. It is critical that feather samples from different individual birds stay in separate envelopes.

One of our first tasks is to see which breeds have the most genetic information in common. This will give us a good idea about which breeds are related to each other, and possibly allow us to trace the ancestry of breeds whose origins are not well understood. Thus far, we have worked closely with the Utah Pigeon Club to gather over 200 DNA samples from over 30 different breeds. We need to dramatically increase the number of birds and breeds in our study for it to be successful.

If you would like to donate feather samples to be included in this project, please contact us at the phone number or email address below. We will provide envelopes and instructions for mailing.

STAYING INVOLVED

We hope this study will benefit the pigeon hobbyist community as well. Our work will us help understand the history of different breeds, and potentially allow genetic testing for relationships among individual birds and breeds. The Utah Pigeon Club will host the NPA Grand National in Salt Lake City in January of 2010. We will be attending this show and will be happy to provide updates on our project and answer any questions that you might have. If you have any questions before that time, please feel free to contact us at the email address listed below.



Thank you for your interest and assistance!



Contact information:



For envelopes and instructions to mail feather samples:

Elissa Mulroy

[email protected]

(801) 581-6812



General questions about the project:

Dr. Mike Shapiro

[email protected]

(801) 581-5690



Shapiro lab website:

http://www.biology.utah.edu/shapiro/

(most of the information on this site deals with our other work on fish genetics)
I've been hearing about this and am interested in what they find, as many of us are. I figure they are going to be overwhelmed with feather samples. I'm particularly interested in what might be found in an archangel feather and may contact them to be sure that they have some.

Bill
 
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DNA Project

Hi, my name is Elissa Mulroy and this is my project. I am a little concerned about some of the recent posts. I understand that there are some of you who do not want to pluck feathers from your birds and completely respect your decision. However, I do ask that if this is the case, you choose not to participate at all and please, please, please do not send feathers from the floors of the cages. One post mentioned that the DNA might degrade. This is true, but more importantly if it is not from the bird that you say it is from then my whole study could be jeopardized. It is crucial that the DNA is from the correct bird and that all the feathers are from the same bird. If you want more information there is a blog at shapiropigeonproject.blogspot.com and also please feel free to contact me. I am more than willing to answer any questions and address any concerns. The correct information is necessary for accurate results. Thanks you for your willingness to listen.
 

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DNA can be extracted from the little blood in the quills.
Moulted feathers are always cut of from any blood supply long before they are dropped, and must be considered as dead. They therefore are useless (apart of the problem of identification).
Blood feathers contain, of course, much more blood, but don't pluck blood feathers: this is a mess.

This research program is an unique opportunity to (once) get an insight into the genetic inheritance of all kind of characteristics in pigeons, and for the breeder, once, to get instruction how to manage and optimize his breeding programm to improve/maximize some wanted characteristics, behaviours and aptitudes, or to avoid unwanted ones....
Why do you think that so many labs in the world are working on the unraveling of the genome of man?
This is of interest for all pigeon breeders.
Therefore: do participate to this feather-samples gathering, the more samples the more information you will get
 
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