Infographic: Dialing Down the Glitz
Infographic: Dialing Down the Glitz

Infographic: Dialing Down the Glitz

The gene BCO2 enables male and female members of some bird species to display dramatically different color patterns.

Rachael Gorman
Rachael Moeller Gorman

After earning a bachelor’s degree in biology and neuroscience from Williams College, Rachael spent two years studying the tiny C. elegans worm as a lab tech at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard...

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Sep 1, 2020

In some finch species, BCO2, a gene that encodes a carotenoid-destroying enzyme, is expressed in many female finch feathers but not in many male feathers. This generates dramatic sexual dichromatism that makes males dazzle while females look relatively drab. In common canaries, which are not sexually dichromatic, both males and females have little BCO2 expression in their feathers.

© Kelly Finan

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