Sorghum yield losses caused by birds have been reported to reach as high as 52 percent.By conducting a genome-wide association study, the researchers discovered that the gene Tannin1 directly regulates bird feeding behavior. The sorghum strains that are not appealing to birds were found to contain the wild-type version of Tannin1, but the bird-preferred strains have a mutated version of the gene.
Through feeding experiments, the researchers found that sparrows preferred to eat untreated seeds compared to seeds soaked in solutions containing anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, or tannic acid. Both condensed tannins and tannic acid are polyphenols that have slightly acidic or bitter properties that likely interfere with the taste and digestibility of the seeds.
“Our discovery that Tannin1 has an enormous impact on the feeding preferences of birds will almost certainly guide molecular marker-assisted selection efforts in crop-improvement programs seeking to limit or prevent bird damage to agricultural production systems,” said co-senior study author Qi Xie of the Chinese Academy of Sciences
Read the complete article in earth.com by Chrissy Sexton.
Image Credit: Shijia Tang