Elucidating the processes that create species differences is a central goal of evolutionary biology. The Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) exists as two well-differentiated subspecies groups in North America, the Yellowshafted (auratus group) and Red-shafted Flickers (cafer group), which differ strikingly in the color of the underside and rachises of flight feathers, and of malar and nuchal patches. We investigated the physiological basis of these conspicuous phenotypic differences by identifying and quantifying the pigments involved. The yellow feathers of auratus contained carotenoids commonly found in nature (lutein, β-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin and β-carotene). The orange to red shafts/vanes of cafer and hybrids contained these carotenoids as well as mono- and diketo-carotenoids (notably adonirubin, α-doradexanthin, canthaxanthin, astaxanthin), representing oxygenated products at carbon C4(4′) of the carotenoids present in auratus. Oxygenation of feather carotenoids at C4(4′) correlated closely with shaft/vane redness. Carotenoid hydroxylation at C3(3′) and the proportion of carotenoids with ε end-rings also varied with color and belie differences in the activity of several carotenoidmodifying enzymes between the two subspecies groups. Curiously, occasional yellow feathers in red-shafted individuals had the carotenoids of auratus, hence the differences are not constitutive in cafer, underscoring regulatory differences. The red malar stripe of cafer, the black malar stripe and red nuchal patch of auratus all contained similar types and amounts of carotenoids, mostly 3-hydroxy-4-keto-carotenoids. The biochemical differences between two strongly differentiated forms we uncovered shed light on how plumage coloration can change over evolutionary time and point to further avenues of research.
|Titolo:||Plumage pigment differences underlying the yellow-red differentiation in the northern flicker (Colaptes auratus)|
|Parole Chiave:||4-Oxygenase; Bird coloration; Carotenoids; HPLC; Hybrids|
|Settore Scientifico Disciplinare:||Settore CHIM/06 - Chimica Organica|
|Data di pubblicazione:||mag-2015|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI):||10.1016/j.cbpb.2014.12.006|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||01 - Articolo su periodico|