Chromosomes in Birds

  • V. L. Sharma
  • R. C. Sobti


Birds are highly specialized morphologically, physiologically and biochemically with about 8600 known species. The work on chromosomes of this group started in the early twentieth century by using section cutting methods. With the development of hypotonic treatment and air drying techniques, many more species have been investigated. Avian karyotype is characterized by large number of chromosomes, presence of macro- and micro-chromosomes and female heterogamety. At present, the data are available for about 7% of the taxonomically known species. On the basis of available data cytotaxonomical relationships and mechanism of chromosome evolution have been derived by many workers. The bird karyotype has been found to be conservative and fusions, fissions or translocations seem to be the basis of chromosome evolution. Studies on NORs show that these are mainly located, on the microchromosomes. The sex-chromosomes are homomorphic in Ratites and heteromorphic in carinates. The wide variation of W-chromosome among carinates indicate various stages of W-chromosome differentiation from homomorphic state to the sex-chromosomes. Presently, genetic methods have been developed to sex the birds. Various molecular methods are now used to map avian genome including chromosome scraping, flow cytometry, zonal centrifugation, DNA markers etc. The analyses of chd genes present on Z and W sexchromosomes of birds show that evolution in them is male driven, thus supporting a neutral model of molecular evolution. Chromosome painting techniques have revealed homologies of karyotypes of chick and emu indicating strong conservation of karyotypes.

Key words

Chromosomes birds evolution sex-chromosomes 


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© Narosa Publishing House, New Delhi, India 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • V. L. Sharma
    • 1
  • R. C. Sobti
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyPanjab UniversityChandigarh
  2. 2.Department of BiotechnologyPanjab UniversityChandigarh

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