Genome sequence of Indian peacock reveals the peculiar case of a glittering bird

The unique ornamental features and extreme sexual traits of Peacock have always intrigued the scientists. However, the genomic evidence to explain its phenotype are yet unknown. Thus, we report the first genome sequence and comparative analysis of peacock with the available high-quality genomes of chicken, turkey, duck, flycatcher and zebra finch. The candidate genes involved in early developmental pathways including TGF-β, BMP, and Wnt signaling pathway, which are also involved in feather patterning, bone morphogenesis, and skeletal muscle development, showed signs of adaptive evolution and provided useful clues on the phenotype of peacock. The innate and adaptive immune components such as complement system and T-cell response also showed signs of adaptive evolution in peacock suggesting their possible role in building a robust immune system which is consistent with the between species predictions of Hamilton-Zuk hypothesis. This study provides novel genomic and evolutionary insights into the molecular understanding towards the phenotypic evolution of Indian peacock.

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