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Comparative BAC-based mapping in the white-throated sparrow, a novel behavioral genomics model, using interspecies overgo hybridization

Michael N Romanov1, Jerry B Dodgson2, Rusty A Gonser1 and Elaina M Tuttle1*

Author Affiliations

1 Dept. of Biology, Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Indiana 47809, USA

2 Dept. of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA

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BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:211  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-211

Published: 21 June 2011

Abstract

Background

The genomics era has produced an arsenal of resources from sequenced organisms allowing researchers to target species that do not have comparable mapping and sequence information. These new "non-model" organisms offer unique opportunities to examine environmental effects on genomic patterns and processes. Here we use comparative mapping as a first step in characterizing the genome organization of a novel animal model, the white-throated sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis), which occurs as white or tan morphs that exhibit alternative behaviors and physiology. Morph is determined by the presence or absence of a complex chromosomal rearrangement. This species is an ideal model for behavioral genomics because the association between genotype and phenotype is absolute, making it possible to identify the genomic bases of phenotypic variation.

Findings

We initiated a genomic study in this species by characterizing the white-throated sparrow BAC library via filter hybridization with overgo probes designed for the chicken, turkey, and zebra finch. Cross-species hybridization resulted in 640 positive sparrow BACs assigned to 77 chicken loci across almost all macro-and microchromosomes, with a focus on the chromosomes associated with morph. Out of 216 overgos, 36% of the probes hybridized successfully, with an average number of 3.0 positive sparrow BACs per overgo.

Conclusions

These data will be utilized for determining chromosomal architecture and for fine-scale mapping of candidate genes associated with phenotypic differences. Our research confirms the utility of interspecies hybridization for developing comparative maps in other non-model organisms.