Zebra finch genome

In this focus

The zebra finch can communicate through learned vocalizations. It is therefore an important model for human neuroscience. Now, genome analysis is revealing that vocalization engages gene-regulatory networks in the zebra finch brain, altering the expression of long non-coding RNAs, microRNAs and transcription factors. In addition, comparative approaches are providing evidence of the rapid molecular evolution of genes regulated during song experience. This web focus celebrates the publication of the zebra finch genome, and showcases recent papers on vocal learning and memory published in Nature or simultaneously in Genome Research and BioMed Central journals.

Image: Simon Griffith, Fowlers Gap, Australia


Current Research


The genome of a songbird Free access

Warren, W. C. et al.

Nature 464, 757–762 (1 April 2010) doi:10.1038/nature08819


Rapid spine stabilization and synaptic enhancement at the onset of behavioural learning

Todd F. Roberts, Katherine A. Tschida, Marguerita E. Klein & Richard Mooney

Nature 463, 948–952 (18 February 2010) doi:10.1038/nature08759


De novo establishment of wild-type song culture in the zebra finch

Olga Fehér, Haibin Wang, Sigal Saar, Partha P. Mitra & Ofer Tchernichovski

Nature 459, 564–568 (28 May 2009) doi:10.1038/nature07994

News and Views

Animal behaviour: Birdsong normalized by culture

W. Tecumseh Fitch

Nature 459, 519–520 (28 May 2009) doi:10.1038/459519a


Sleep and sensorimotor integration during early vocal learning in a songbird

Sylvan S. Shank & Daniel Margoliash

Nature 458, 73–77 (5 March 2009) doi:10.1038/nature07615


Neural processing of auditory feedback during vocal practice in a songbird

Georg B. Keller & Richard H. R. Hahnloser

Nature 457, 187–190 (8 January 2009) doi:10.1038/nature07467


Using temperature to analyse temporal dynamics in the songbird motor pathway

Michael A. Long & Michale S. Fee

Nature 456, 189–194 (13 November 2008) doi:10.1038/nature07448

News and Views

Neuroscience: Cool songs

Chris M. Glaze & Todd Troyer

Nature 456, 187–188 (13 November 2008) doi:10.1038/456187a


Precise auditory-vocal mirroring in neurons for learned vocal communication

J. F. Prather, S. Peters, S. Nowicki & R. Mooney

Nature 451, 305–310 (17 January 2008) doi:10.1038/nature06492

News and Views

Behavioural neuroscience: Neurons of imitation

Ofer Tchernichovski & Josh Wallman

Nature 451, 249–250 (17 January 2008) doi:10.1038/451249a


Performance variability enables adaptive plasticity of 'crystallized' adult birdsong

Evren C. Tumer & Michael S. Brainard

Nature 450, 1240–1244 (20 December 2007) doi:10.1038/nature06390


Zebra finch genome papers from Genome Research

Sex bias and dosage compensation in the zebra finch versus chicken genomes: general and specialized patterns among birds

Itoh, Y. et al.

Genome Res. 20, 512–518 doi:10.1101/gr.102343.109

Copy number variation, chromosome rearrangement and their association with recombination during avian evolution

Völker, M. et al.

Genome Res. 20, 503–511 doi:10.1101/gr.103663.109

Pronounced inter and intra-chromosomal variation in linkage disequilibrium across the zebra finch genome

Stapley, J. et al.

Genome Res. 20, 496–502 doi:10.1101/gr.102095.109

The recombination landscape of the zebra finch Taeniopygia guttata genome

Backström, N. et al.

Genome Res. 20, 485–495 doi:10.1101/gr.101410.109