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The genetic and evolutionary basis of colour variation in vertebrates

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature review

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JournalCellular and molecular life sciences
DatePublished - Aug 2010
Issue number15
Volume67
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)2591-2603
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Variation in pigmentation is one of the most conspicuous phenotypic traits in vertebrates. Although mammals show less variation in body pigmentation than other vertebrate groups, the genetics of colour determination and variation is best understood for them. More than 150 genes have been identified that influence pigmentation, and in many cases, the cause for variation in pigmentation has been identified down to the underlying nucleotide changes. These studies show that while some genes are often responsible for deviating pigmentation, similar or almost identical phenotypes even in the same species may be due to mutations in different genes. In this review we will first discuss the current knowledge about the genes and their functions underlying the biochemical pathways that determine pigmentation and then give examples where the mutations responsible for colour variation have been determined. Finally, we will discuss potential evolutionary causes for and consequences of differences in pigmentation between individuals.

    Research areas

  • Adaptation, Aposematism, Crypsis, MC1R, Melanin, Pigmentation, Sensory drive, Sexual selection, PROTEIN-COUPLED RECEPTORS, QUAIL COTURNIX-JAPONICA, OCULAR ALBINISM TYPE-1, BLACK COAT COLOR, SEXUAL SELECTION, MELANOCORTIN-1 RECEPTOR, MATE CHOICE, CICHLID FISHES, REPRODUCTIVE ISOLATION, PLUMAGE POLYMORPHISM

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