Birds reveal the secret of their plumage

日期:2017-10-21 01:15:45 作者:周钕雾 阅读:

THE exquisitely regular spacing of feathers on a bird’s skin is created by proteins that clear the area around each feather, researchers in Masschusetts have found. Biologists know that cells destined to grow feathers produce proteins called BMPs. The early appearance of the proteins in these cells “suggested they might help feathers form”, says Bruce Morgan, a developmental biologist at Harvard Medical School in Boston. Morgan and his student Selina Noramly used viruses to deliver genes for BMPs, or an inhibitor of them called noggin, to the backs of chicken embryos. Skin regions given extra doses of BMPs developed bald patches, while patches that received noggin had tightly packed feather buds (Development, vol 125, p 3775). So the researchers conclude that the BMP proteins, far from promoting the formation of feathers,