The genome of the zebra finch was published in Nature today and is free to access here. This is the second bird species to have its genome published – the other one being the chicken. The zebra finch is a member of the Order Passeriformes (the songbirds) and is something of a model organism in neurophysiology. Not surprisingly its genome has a number of interesting features associated with song and vocal communication. I hope to have some time to write more about the songbird genome later but in the meantime here’s a summary from Nature:
The genome of the zebra finch — a songbird and a model for the study of vertebrate brain, behaviour and evolution — has been sequenced. Its comparison with the chicken genome, the only other bird genome available, shows that genes with neural function and implicated in cognitive processing of song have been rapidly evolving in the finch lineage. The study also shows that vocal communication engages much of the zebra finch brain transcriptome and identifies a potential integrator of microRNA signals linked to vocal communication.