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Sequence variation in melanocortin-1-receptor and tyrosinase-related protein 1 genes and their relationship with melanin-based plumage trait expression in Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni) males

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Lesser kestrel males display inter-individual variation in melanin-based plumage traits, like ventral plumage colouration and breast/underwing spottiness. We explored whether such plumage variability was associated with single-nucleotide genetic polymorphisms of melanocortin-1-receptor (MC1R) and tyrosinase-related protein 1 (TYRP1), two genes involved in the melanogenesis pathway. No statistically significant associations between single-nucleotide mutations and male plumage traits emerged, though in some cases very rare (< 2%) homozygous mutated individuals displayed extreme plumage phenotypes. Hence, large inter-individual male Lesser Kestrel plumage variation, which is consistent between years and partly age related, was only marginally related to untranslated region and coding sequence variation of MC1R and TYRP1.


Variation in MC1R- und TYRP1-Gensequenzen in Relation zur Expression melaninbasierter Gefiedermerkmale bei Rötelfalkenmänchen (Falco naumanni) Rötelfalkenmännchen zeigen interindividuelle Variation in melaninbasierten Gefiedermerkmalen, wie z.B. der Bauchgefiederfärbung und der Brust- und Unterflügeltüpfelung. Wir untersuchten, ob eine solche Gefiedervariation mit einer Sequenzvariation von MC1R und TYRP1 zusammenhängt, zwei Genen, die an der Melaninsynthese beteiligt sind, Es fand sich kein statistisch signifikanter Zusammenhang zwischen Einzelnukleotidmutationen und den Gefiedermerkmalen der Männchen, aber in einigen Fällen zeigten Individuen mit sehr seltener (< 2%) homozygoter Mutation extreme Phänotypen in der Gefiederfärbung. Die große interindividuelle Variationsbreite in der Gefiederfärbung männlicher Rötelfalken, die von Jahr zu Jahr konsistent bleibt und teilweise altersabhängig ist, steht also lediglich geringfügig mit der Variation in der nicht-kodierenden Region und den kodierenden Sequenzen des MC1R und TYRP1 Gens in Zusammenhang.

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We thank the Provincia di Matera (E. De Capua), the Provveditorato Interregionale per le Opere Pubbliche, and the Comune di Matera for authorizing our work on the breeding colonies, as well as for constant support during field activities. We also wish to thank A. Curcio, E. Fulco and M. Visceglia for assistance with fieldwork, C. Simon for assistance with laboratory work, L. M. San-Jose and two anonymous reviewers for useful suggestions. Study of the Naumanni76 team (paper no. 2).

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Correspondence to Margherita Corti.

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Communicated by M. Wink.

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Corti, M., Podofillini, S., Griggio, M. et al. Sequence variation in melanocortin-1-receptor and tyrosinase-related protein 1 genes and their relationship with melanin-based plumage trait expression in Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni) males. J Ornithol 159, 587–591 (2018).

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