The Molecular Determination of a Bird’s Pattern

  • A. Lima-de-Faria


When we contemplate a bird we only see the final product of an enormous succession of molecular interactions. From the fertilized egg to the adult organism millions of cell divisions take place, but a contrary phenomenon – programmed cell death – is equally necessary to give the final shape to every organ. Ceramids are among the molecules that are responsible for directing this program.

Equally well ordered is the growth of bird feathers and their replacement. Two well defined genes determine the growth of feathers, their differentiation and the time at which they are formed and discarded. Moreover hormones control their size, shape and colour. The chemical pigments in feathers do not have a random location, but are guided by proteins and other molecules, to their final destination on the bird’s body.


Bone Morphogenetic Protein Sonic Hedgehog Plumage Coloration Tail Feather Copper Carbonate 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Cell and Organism BiologyLund UniversityLundSweden
  2. 2.LundSweden

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