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Anim Genet. 2009 Dec;40(6):971-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2052.2009.01929.x. Epub 2009 Jun 3.

Plumage colour mutations and melanins in the feathers of the Japanese quail: a first comparison.

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INRA/AgroParisTech, UMR 1313 Génétique animale et biologie intégrative, 78352 Jouy-en-Josas, France.


The absorbance of melanin content from dorsal feathers was compared between wild-type Japanese quail and nine other quail plumage colours determined by single mutations in one of seven genes: extended brown (MC1R), yellow (ASIP), silver (MITF), lavender (MLPH), roux (TYRP1), imperfect albinism (SLC45A2) and rusty. As compared with wild-type quail, all mutations but extended brown decreased total melanins. The largest decrease was observed in quail with one of the dilution mutations at TYRP1, MLPH or SLCA45A2. No difference in eumelanins was found between the 10 plumage colours. Despite visible colour differences, homozygous and heterozygous mutants at MITF, or the two imperfect albino (white) and cinnamon (pale yellow) alleles at SLC45A2, could not be differentiated on the basis of melanins. In contrast, the two white phenotypes caused by mutations at MITF and SLC45A2, or the two reddish plumage colours caused by the roux and rusty non-allelic mutations had different total melanin contents. The results showed that rusty was not likely to be a dilution mutation.

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