The song learning related genome of birds

Abstract Learned vocalizations are the exception in animals and occur in birds only in songbirds, parrots, and some hummingbirds. Songbirds have to learn their songs from conspecific tutors. To do so, songbirds evolved a specific neuronal circuit for song production and learning. This system of well-defined brain nuclei is unknown in taxonomic sister-groups and the underlying developmental mechanisms for the differentiation are not understood so far.
In a genetic screen using songbird microarrays developed in our group as well as next-generation sequencing, we are planning to identify genes, which define the development and function of the song system. In relation, we want to analyze the transcriptome of the song system from a selected group of songbirds species and compare it to the transcriptome of homologous brain regions in non-songbirds from South America.
We are looking for a PhD candidate who would like to pursue a thesis which involves molecular biological work with microarrays and modern sequencing techniques, as well as bioinformatics, to identify gene networks that distinguish vocal learners from vocal non-learners.

Keywords song learning, birds, genome, transcriptome

Main advisor Manfred Gahr, MPIO Seewiesen

Interested in this PhD project? Apply here!

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