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Novel insights into chromosome evolution in birds, archosaurs, and reptiles

Research output: Contribution to journalLetter

  • Marta Farre
  • Jitendra Narayan
  • Gancho T. Slavov
  • Joana Damas
  • Loretta Auvil
  • Li Cai
  • Erich D Jarvis
  • David Burt
  • Darren K Griffin
  • Denis M. Larkin

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    Rights statement: © The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2442-2451
JournalGenome Biology and Evolution
Issue number8
Early online date10 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016


Homologous synteny blocks (HSBs) and evolutionary breakpoint regions (EBRs) in mammalian chromosomes are enriched for distinct DNA features, contributing to distinct phenotypes. To reveal HSB and EBR roles in avian evolution, we performed a sequence-based comparison of 21 avian and five outgroup species using recently sequenced genomes across the avian family tree and a newly-developed algorithm. We identified EBRs and HSBs in ancestral bird, archosaurian (bird, crocodile, dinosaur), and reptile chromosomes. Genes involved in the regulation of gene expression and biosynthetic processes were preferably located in HSBs, for example the avian-specific HSBs were enriched for genes involved in limb development. Within birds, some lineage-specific EBRs rearranged genes related to distinct phenotypes, such as forebrain development in parrots. Our findings provide novel evolutionary insights into genome evolution in birds, particularly how chromosome rearrangements likely contributed to the formation of novel phenotypes.

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