Pirate lore may have helped introduce them to America, but there is only one remaining species of parrot that is native to the United States: theIguaca, or the Puerto Rican Amazon, more commonly known as the Puerto Rican Parrot, as Keerthi Chandrashekar reports in this article for Latinospost.com. Follow link below for video.
Sad thing is, this green beauty is endangered, but a grassroots campaign has helped raise the funds to sequence its genome for future generations.
The effort was made possible by donations from Puerto Rican communities and the staff and students from the Biology Department of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez.
While the end goal of the project was to preserve the Puerto Rican Parrot, it also proved that local efforts can go a long way in preserving heritage – even at the genomic level.
“We are very proud of our project and even more proud to be part of a local community dedicated to raising awareness and furthering scientific knowledge of this endangered bird,” said Dr. Taras Oleksyk who oversaw the Puerto Rican Genome Project.
“Community involvement may be the key for the future of conservation genetics, and many projects like this are needed reverse the current rate of extinction of birds across the globe.”
And they did it with some plain old door-to-door knocking.
The project was largely funded by various events such as art and fashion shows and by donations from local businesses and people.
So what did they find?
“When we compared our sequence of our parrot, Iguaca, from Rio Abajo to other species of birds, we found that she had 84.5 percent similarity to zebra finches and 82.7 percent to a chicken, but her genome was highly rearranged,” said Dr. Oleksyk.
The scientists aren’t planning on cloning the rare parrots, but rather trying to preserve its heritage for future generations, and they have proved that you don’t need a huge government grant or research fund to carry out such a task.
For the original report go to http://www.latinospost.com/articles/4750/20120929/puerto-rican-parrot-genome-sequenced-thanks-plain.htm