Thursday, February 11, 2010

Grand National Show Happenings

Thanks to all of you that submitted samples at the Grand National Show. It was a huge success. We collected 310 samples and it was great to finally get to put a face to so many of you who I have only communicated with through email and over the phone.
The next step will be to extract the DNA from the samples and test it so that the data can be added to the pigeon tree. The tree was shown at the show and I hope to be able to get it posted within the next few days along with some pictures.

Monday, August 31, 2009

New Information

I just wanted to thank you for your continuing support, it has been a busy time with so many feathers coming in. We now have over 500 samples, including some from overseas. Please continue to send feathers and pass on information to others. If you have any ideas or suggestions send me an email or call. I am always happy to hear from you.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Other news

The email address for the project has changed. Please now direct all questions and information to All there have been some people asking if it is too late to send in feather samples. It is most certainly not. Please continue return the packets.

International Permit

We have now received our international permit and can accept feathers from other countries. I tried to contact all of the internal breeders who have expressed interest, but if I have failed to contact you and you are still interested in participating, please send me an email and I will send you the necessary paperwork. Thanks

Friday, July 10, 2009

What Happens to the Feathers

There has been some interest expressed in knowing what happens after you send me the feather samples. In case you are interested, I will try to explain what I do with all of these samples.
After the feathers are received, I clean them to remove any debris or dust that may be on them. Then I trim the sample, keeping only the bottom inch or so and place this in a digestion buffer containing an enzyme which breaks down the cells and releases the DNA. After that I concentrate the DNA and remove the digestion buffer and any the remainder of the feather. Once I have the pure DNA, I clean it and use a machine to determine the concentration of DNA that was gathered. The concentration is different for each feather. It depends on the size of the feather, whether or not it contained blood, the type of feather, the age of the feather, and luck.
Once we have the DNA we use PCR to amplify regions within the genome that contain markers. We test multiple regions where markers are found and we send them away for genotyping which tells us specific information about each marker that is unique to the bird. The markers are different for different birds, but tend to be more similar or the same within breeds and the more similar the markers are between breeds, the more closely related those two breeds are. We use computer programs at this stage to determine which breeds are more closely related.
This is why we need a large number of samples, because crossing birds will change these markers.
I realize that this might not be clear and please feel free to post questions and let me know where it doesn't make sense and I will attempt to clarify.
Also thanks to all of you who have sent in samples. Please keep them coming so that we can keep this project moving.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Importance of Sampling

I am a little concerned about some posts that I have seen on some online pigeon blogs. I understand that there are some of you who do not want to pluck feathers from your birds and completely respect your decision. However, I do ask that if this is the case, you choose not to participate at all and please, please, please do not send feathers from the floors of the cages. One post I read mentioned that the DNA might degrade. This is true, but more importantly if it is not from the bird that you say it is from then my whole study could be jeopardized. It is crucial that the DNA is from the correct bird and that all the feathers are from the same bird.Please feel free to contact me. I am more than willing to answer any questions and address any concerns. The correct information is necessary for accurate results.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Round One Complete

We have successful extract DNA from the feathers that we have received so far. Thanks again to all of you who have sent in feathers thus far.