Hepatic conversion of red carotenoids in passerine birds
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Identifying the metabolically active sites for derived carotenoids that colour avian feathers and determining whether or not different species may use different mechanisms of colour production are crucial for understanding the evolution of the ornament. However, the role of liver versus follicles, the two candidate sites suggested by previous authors, remains contentious (McGraw 2009; del Val et al. 2009).
The absence of certain carotenoids in the food of some red-coloured birds led to the proposal that the liver, as the most active metabolic site in any vertebrate, was the organ where those non-dietary carotenoids were metabolised (see del Val et al. 2009 and references therein). The fact that several studies failed to find traces of metabolically derived plumage carotenoids in liver and plasma (Stradi 1998; Inouye 1999; McGraw 2004) led to the hypothesis that some colourful passerines might convert some red pigments directly in the skin. However, no conclusive studies confirming the...
KeywordsCarotenoid Biliverdin Potential Food Source Dietary Carotenoid Young Needle
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