The Indian peafowl also known as blue peafowl (Scientific Name: Pavo cristatus), is one of the largest flying bird on the earth. This species of peafowl is native to Indian subcontinent and is recognized as the National Bird of India. It is a brightly colored bird with beautiful plumage and iridescently colored tail-coverts. These display feathers are useful for their sexual selection and reproductive success. The presence of such glittering feathers makes it vulnerable to predators and has even puzzled the greatest naturalist and biologist Charles Darwin, since it poses a challenge for his theory of natural selection. Peacock has a very versatile diet including berries, grains but also prey on snakes, lizards, and small rodents. These extraordinary features of Peacock makes it an interesting and important bird for study.
We have sequenced the complete genome of Indian Peacock to gain insights on its unique phenotype. Further, we carried out a comprehensive comparative genomic and evolutionary analysis of peacock with other bird genomes, which showed that peacock genome is closer to chicken and turkey in evolution. The most significant outcome was the revelation of signs of evolution in the early stages of body development which makes it different from the other birds. Our study found the genes responsible for the feather patterning which makes Peacock as one of the most beautiful bird on this planet. We also found that it has a robust immune system which helps it to fight against infections and live longer. This work is extremely significant since it is the first bird genome reported from India and gains additional importance because Peacock is the national bird of India. Thus, the results from the genome sequencing of this unique bird, which has attracted the attention of both researchers and naturalists, would be of wide interest to researchers and ornithologist of India and to the International community.
Dr. Vineet K. Sharma, Shubham K. Jaiswal, Ankit Gupta, Rituja Saxena, Vishnu Prasoodanan, Ashok Sharma, Parul Mittal, Ankita Roy, Dr. Nagarjun Vijay, Dr. Aaron BA Shafer