• GC-MS techniques help aid bird genetics experiment
    Smell may be an important sense for birds, it has been revealed


GC-MS techniques help aid bird genetics experiment

Mar 24 2010

The separate evolution of two populations of a bird species in southern California may have been precipitated by olfactory differences, researchers have revealed.

Scientists at the Indiana University Bloomington used gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) techniques to isolate and indentify components of the preening oil secreted by dark-eyed juncos.

This fluid is used by the animal to straighten and waterproof its wings, but experts now believe birds produce individual odours depending on genetic factors.

Two colonies were taken from different areas and the chemicals found in each were markedly varied, despite being raised in identical conditions.

Danielle Whittaker, lead author of study - published in this month's Behavioural Ecology - said smell could affect sexual practices and parental care in the juncos.

It is not the only recent experiment to use GC-MS, with lab workers from the Central South University and Yulin Normal College in China also utilising such devices to ascertain potential childhood obesity markers.

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