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 Your Honors….Will the true Albino Roseicollis please come forward?

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Posts : 15
Join date : 30/11/2010

PostSubject: Your Honors….Will the true Albino Roseicollis please come forward?   Mon Apr 09, 2012 4:15 pm

Happy Easter to All!!

I surmise that after doing some soul–searching activity during the Holy Week (being immersed in God, I should say!), a good number of us were able (hopefully…) to acquire a better foothold of ourselves and our lives, ready to face with greater fortitude, the challenges of daily living in the days to come.

Since the Hon. CJ Corona’s impeachment trial had gone on recess, we can peacefully sit down for a while to reflect on some lovebird topics you and I were thinking about for some time now. I have chosen to write about the above topic for this occasion. I hope you don’t get lost in the process of reading it!

Firstly, what is an Albino bird?

The term albino comes from the Latin root word: albus, (an adjective) meaning white + -ine (suffix), meaning belonging to or resembling something. Just a digression, do you remember Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series? He sports a white beard isn’t it?

The abnormal absence of color or pigment is called albinism. In avian species, albinism is one of the more familiarly known changes manifesting in the birds’ feathers.

A “true” or “total” albino lacks color in all structures derived from the skin as well in the eye. In addition to having white feathers, therefore, a total albino has pale –colored tarsi, a very pale bill, and pink eyes (because the pigment is absent that ordinarily conceals the red color of the blood circulating in the eyeball). Such albinos are relatively rare in the wild. More common are instances referred to as incomplete, imperfect, or partial albinism. One last item, the white feathers of albino birds appear to be weaker structurally than colored feathers. (ref. page 24, Bird Study by Andrew J. Berger, Dover Publications, Inc., New York, 1961 ed.).

Enter: Albino PF Lovebirds

Having explained what an albino is, let us go to the main dish. Curiously and every now and then, beautiful pictures of “albino Roseicollis” pop up in the some avian websites and are usually offered for sale. They sport what looks like the albino phenotype and are not cheap.

In our understanding of the genetic profile of the albino and how it is produced, we generally know that in parrots, the true albino is always a combination of two genes: the blue and the ino. Why is this so? The reason is that no single gene in the parrot family controls both yellow and grey family pigments in the feathers. The blue gene removes all the yellow family pigments (psittacofulvin or psittacin) while the ino gene removes all the grey family pigments (eumelanin*).

*For this article, I am using a European classification system for melanin, where only two types of melanin are recognized namely: [1] Eumelanin – black melanin, but can have shades of brown and, [2] Phaeomelanin – reddish-brown melanin.

In principle, to breed an albino in the Agapornis sp., one combines a recessive gene (blue in this case) and an ino gene (either sex-linked [SL] ino gene, or non sex-liked ino gene [NSL ino] as the case maybe).

The Albino in the White eyering Lovebird Group:

In Agapornis sp. of the white eyering group, the albino is generated through a very specific genetic pathway. Take note that two important genes are needed to produce this phenotype & genotype: blue and ino. Fortunately, both genes exist in this particular lovebird group (blue and NSL-ino [non sex-liked ino]). It is therefore a no-brainer to conclude that true albinos exist in this group. We thus, talk about Albino Fischer, Albino Personatus, Albino Black-cheeked, etc.

The Albino in the Peach-faced Lovebird (PFLB) Group:

In the Peachface (PF) lovebird group (A. roseicollis), the Sex-Linked (SL)-ino gene certainly exists. The blue gene however, doesn’t exist at the moment, or should we say, the existence of the blue gene is still uncertain, or unconfirmed, or if ever, still needs to be clearly demonstrated. Having said that, how come some lovebird breeders claim that they can produce an “albino” roseicollis?

What lovebird enthusiasts say…

I posted a query about this matter in the BVA e-group some months ago, wanting to know the status of the blue Roseicollis (supposedly possessing the blue gene).

Mr. Wessel van der Veen, a member of the e-group responded that no real blue mutation exists in Agapornis roseicollis at the moment. The so-called albino Peachface (PF) are the ino variety of the "blue" roseicollis, where "blue" is a provisional name designated for a selected turquoise (a.k.a. Whiteface) Peachface lovebird mutation, carefully chosen for minimum psittacofulvin or psittacin possession.

Dirk Van den Abeele (author of the book: Lovebirds, Owners’ Manual and Reference Guide) indirectly replied to the query by sending us a link to an article he published in February 2008:


The abovementioned article, quite technical as you might have noticed, points to the fact that there is no scientific proof to-date that a true blue Agapornis roseicollis exists but yes, *blue* phenotypes (visual blue) exist, but genetically speaking, they are not the blue mutation as we understand them to be. Note that we use (*) here to designate a phenotype and not the genotype. The designation or name written between the asterisks does not imply 100% certitude with regards to the genotype.

Genetic anticipation in the production of the *blue* PFLB:

Mr. Abeele talked about the process of the so called genetic anticipation towards the end of his article.

He wrote:<<The question is whether these *blue* birds are the result of anticipation or whether we should consider them to be blue or not? Strictly, based on the external appearance, I would say, yes, but scientifically speaking, we are again distorting the truth and the question is what to do when we come across a real blue?>>

As of the moment, the *blue* Peachface Lovebird (PFLB) apparently exists (i.e., nearly 95 - 99% pscittacine-free), as a result of the selective breeding of turquoise PFLB through the so called genetic anticipation. This is one theory being presented by some lovebird breeders. The question is: will this scheme eventually produce true blue PFLB?

Answer: The genetic anticipation hypothesis being used to explain turquoise PFLB being bred to produce blue phenotypes will not necessarily end up producing true blues in the future. One characteristic to watch out for is the stable behavior of the *blue* PFLB resulting from selective turquoise PFLB breeding vis-à-vis the true blue mutation if ever it appears in the future.

Mr. Abelle wrote: << Over the years we saw that a number of amateurs by invariably pairing these ‘almost blue’ birds with one another, this ‘almost blue’ colour became part of certain blood lines and thus we ended up with several birds which where for nearly 99% (or even more) psittacine free. The ultimate proof of the existence of blue to many is if a complete albino is born and indeed ino birds were born which were almost completely white. Yet for completeness sake we need to mention that as they got older a yellow spot appeared here and there. Again proof that genetically speaking we are not dealing with a true blue mutation.>>

The *blue* PFLB: a new Parblue allele?

Another point being forwarded is whether this *blue* PFLB phenotype is a new allele of the Parblue group in PFLB. This is another “big picture” issue.

Mr. Abeele explains: << Yet the question remains, what is it? If they are not blue and no longer turquoise, what are they and how did they come about? A logical explanation could be that a new allele came into existence on the gene locus responsible for blue. We know for a fact that aqua and turquoise are two different alleles of the blue locus. It is therefore possible that a third variation (allele) has emerged. However I have my reservations and it is my opinion that the current results from trial pairings will confirm my position.>>

Mr. Abeele’s explanation of the preceding note:

<<We usually see that if we pair these ‘blue’ birds with a normal turquoise we get young with diverse gradations: from nearly blue to obviously turquoise. This immediately proves that they are either alleles of the same gene locus or that it is simply the same allele, but definitely not two different mutations.

Why do I personally think it is the same allele? Basically because of those diverse blue intermediate types. We see that if we pair an aqua with a turquoise, i.e. clearly two different alleles are responsible for the control over the psittacine production, we get the typical AquaTurquoise birds, or if we describe the colour, the ‘apple green’ birds (hence the earlier name apple green). In this case we conclude that we do not have an intermediate type as regards to the reduction as is the case for a combination of alleles responsible for the eumelanin production (e.g. Pastel and NSL-ino) but again a practically green bird. About how and where the psittacine is manufactured there is still not a 100% scientific certainty but it is a fact that this process is more extensive than the creation of black eumelanin.

Thanks to HPLC or the High Performance Liquid Chromatography (one of the new research methods) it could be scientifically proven that the red psittacofulvins in the feathers of parakeets consist of tradecahexenal, hexadecaheptenal, octadecaoctenal, eicosanonenal and a fifth unknown component (Stradi & al 2001; McGraw & Mary C. Nogare 2005). Research on yellow feathers turned out not to be easy and as a result the correct composition of the yellow psittacine is not yet known. Add to this the fact that for budgerigars there are two different types of yellow psittacine, this first and foremost proves that the chemical composition of red and yellow psittacine is totally different. And that psittacine has a complex composition and therefore demands a more complex functioning of that specific gene. It seems logical that if we combine two different alleles from a gene, which is normally responsible for the production of yellow psittacine and still partial active, the final gene product will rather lean towards the wild type (in this case green) than towards blue.

In genetics we see that mother nature is always trying to heal and repairs his ‘mistakes’. So we have some checkpoints in every cells division. Besides that, sometimes enzymes will try to fix some errors: e.g. in SL-ino, there is still tyrosinase activity and the tyrosinase enzyme will act 2.5 more than normal, because it wants to color these (malformed) matrixes. In this cause I guess it will try to produce as much yellow psittacine as possible. We do not only observe this phenomenon in Agapornids but also in other parakeet species where aqua and turquoise are present.

Then of course one can assume that these ‘blue’ birds might be blue after all and that this is the reason why we get blue specimens as an intermediate type when combining with turquoise. Genetically speaking these birds would be TurquoiseBlue. Yet I have my reservations. Of course we cannot demonstrate what the result would be of a pairing of blue with turquoise for the roseicollis because we are not sure about the existence of the true blue roseicollis and for the personatus where there is blue, there are no turquoise mutations. Here coincidence lent a hand.

Ellen Uittenbogaard, a valued BVA employee and passionate amateur in the field of tame Agapornids, at a certain point in time had a blue personatus which accidentally produced young together with a turquoise roseicollis. Because genetically speaking the roseicollis is still fairly similar to the personatus it is possible for these species to have young together, but due to the different number of chromosome pairs in these birds, it is no longer possible to form homologous pairs from these hybrids in the anaphase during the meiosis and consequently these combination birds are infertile. Yet we clearly saw in that young the result of the pairing between the blue gene and the turquoise gene (these genes are probably the same with regard to the composition for these Agapornid species). The result was an almost green bird. In other words, just like with the combination of aqua and turquoise the offspring resulting from the combination of blue and turquoise are rather greenish. This contrary to what should logically be blue. Breeding results between blue and turquoise mutations in other parakeet species also confirm these results.>>

Ladies and Gentlemen, this discussion on the origin of the *blue*PFLB should spur us on to think of ways and means to pin down this possible mutation if ever it appears in our own aviaries and to try to establish a real true blue PFLB line if ever it shows up one day in your breeding cages. In this way, further tests can be made with its other alleles, i.e., Aqua and Turqouise.

In the meantime, it is prudent to wait until the time when we get more information, and acquire a deeper knowledge and understanding regarding its biochemical and biological pathways and processes leading to the production and eventual deposition of the pigments (i.e., yellow psittacin) responsible for the variations set forth by these processes found in various psittacidae species.

For further information, it will also be interesting to read the topic on the Blue locus – b, pages 241 – 245 of “A Guide to Colour Mutations & Genetics in Parrots” by Dr. Terry Martin BVSc (ABK Publications, 2002) to give us a deeper appreciation of these blue alleles.

A solution being proposed:

Mr. Abeele continues: <<Within BVA, we therefore advocate to strictly adhere to the international conventions which state that a name used for a mutation which is not 100% correct should be placed between asterisks, e.g. *blue*. This ‘blue’ type and the real turquoise could then be judged as two different phenotypes at exhibitions. This way the original turquoise type would be reinstated and again appreciated during conventions and the ‘blue’ types would also have the opportunity to further develop and be judged as blue. The only condition would be that the name is placed between asterisks. The moment that there is scientific proof that a true blue exists we can simply omit the * * and all ‘blue’ phenotypes will be judged and requested as true blue. This way it is clear to everybody and the breeders are not misled and that it is the goal of these *blue* to breed them as blue but that they are only a blue phenotype and genetically speaking not genuine blue. (This is) a solution which is acceptable to everybody and which does not distort the truth. >>

In lovebird shows, these blue PFLB will be judged as a normal *blue*roseicollis or in combination with SL-ino, *albino* roseicollis; and, if ever there is visual psittacofulvin or psittacine in the feathers, they will never be judged as *albino*. Take note that a true blue mutation, by definition, is a bird that is completely psittacin-free.

Thus an acceptable designation or terminology for this white Roseicollis w/ red eyes is *albino* Peachface lovebird sold as such, or he or she may use “blue ino” Roseicollis to designate their genotype.

Some parting words…

Before I end, just take note once more that a true blue mutation is not able to produce any yellow pigment (psittacofulvin or psittacin), while the turquoise PFLB will partially suppress the possibility of creating psittacin in the feathers. Moreover, should a true blue PFLB appear one of these days, it would possibly be an allele of the aqua and turquoise mutations of PFLB.

Thus for now, what we refer to as “albino” Roseicollis, is actually kunyari lang siyang “albino” Roseicollis for the simple reason that it came out of a selected turqouise PFLB mutation in combination with the SL-ino gene and not from a true blue Roseicollis and SL-ino gene combination. There having no true blue PFLB yet in existence, so neither will we have a true albino PFLB existing.

Furthermore, to test if this is really a true blue PFLB mutation, we should try mating it with a pure wild-type PFLB. This will take away the problem and confusion arising from the inclusion of other alleles of the blue gene which if done, will only end up in producing heterozygous progeny that will be difficult to determine or classify.

Now… who can say that there will not be a true blue in the future? Will the world’s first true blue PFLB might come from your aviary? Abangan!

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