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BMC Genomics. 2015 Dec 9;16:1038. doi: 10.1186/s12864-015-2254-1.

De novo assembly of the dual transcriptomes of a polymorphic raptor species and its malarial parasite.

Author information

1
Department of Animal Behaviour, Bielefeld University, 33501, Bielefeld, Germany.
2
Department of Animal Behaviour, Bielefeld University, 33501, Bielefeld, Germany. az.nayden@gmail.com.
3
Present address: Molecular Ecology and Evolution Lab, Lund University, 223 62, Lund, Sweden. az.nayden@gmail.com.
4
Bioinformatics and Systems Biology, Justus-Liebig-University, 35390, Giessen, Germany.
5
Center for Biotechnology, Bielefeld University, 33501, Bielefeld, Germany.
6
Department of Biology, Boston University, Boston, MA, 02215, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Studies of non-model species are important for understanding the molecular processes underpinning phenotypic variation under natural ecological conditions. The common buzzard (Buteo buteo; Aves: Accipitriformes) is a widespread and common Eurasian raptor with three distinct plumage morphs that differ in several fitness-related traits, including parasite infestation. To provide a genomic resource for plumage polymorphic birds in general and to search for candidate genes relating to fitness, we generated a transcriptome from a single dead buzzard specimen plus easily accessible, minimally invasive samples from live chicks.

RESULTS:

We not only de novo assembled a near-complete buzzard transcriptome, but also obtained a significant fraction of the transcriptome of its malaria-like parasite, Leucocytozoon buteonis. By identifying melanogenesis-related transcripts that are differentially expressed in light ventral and dark dorsal feathers, but which are also expressed in other regions of the body, we also identified a suite of candidate genes that could be associated with fitness differences among the morphs. These include several immune-related genes, providing a plausible link between melanisation and parasite load. qPCR analysis of a subset of these genes revealed significant differences between ventral and dorsal feathers and an additional effect of morph.

CONCLUSION:

This new resource provides preliminary insights into genes that could be involved in fitness differences between the buzzard colour morphs, and should facilitate future studies of raptors and their malaria-like parasites.

PMID:
26645667
PMCID:
PMC4673757
DOI:
10.1186/s12864-015-2254-1
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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