Talkative parrot’s genome decodes longevity, cognition
Washington, Dec. 8: Scientists have sequenced the genome of the bluefronted Amazon parrot, unveiling new insights into longevity and highly developed cognitive abilities that give the talkative birds so much in common with humans.
The first comparative study of parrot genome by researchers from the Carnegie Mellon University in the US will also provide clues about how parrots learn to vocalise so well.
By comparing the bluefronted Amazon with 30 other long- and short- lived birds — including four additional parrot species — the researchers identified a suite of genes previously not known to play a role in longevity.
They also identified genes associated with longevity in fruit flies and worms.
“In many cases, this is the first time we’ve connected those genes to longevity in vertebrates,” said Morgan Wirthlin, a post- doctoral fellow.
Parrots are known to live up to 90 years in captivity — a lifespan that would be equivalent to hundreds of years for humans, Wirthlin said.
The genes include telomerase, responsible for DNA repair of telomeres, which are known to shorten with age.
Changes in these DNA genes can turn cells malignant. researchers have found evidence that changes in the repair genes of birds appear to be balanced.