Feather keratin gene

F-KER gene g.710T>G

Required genotype F-KERTT on long-distance flights

A fourth and newer quality marker is a polymorphism in feather keratin (F-KER). The F-KER mutation is a g.710T>G polymorphism in the keratin gene, which gives rise to a cysteine-to-glycine amino acid substitution at position 83 (Cys83Gly) in the protein.

The result of the point mutation is a malformation in the keratin protein and is said to have a negative impact on performance of racing pigeons on long-distance flights. The F-KERTT variant (wild type) occurs significantly more in successful pigeons on long distance flights (>500 km) than the F-KERGG variant.

How often does this allele occur in our population of racing pigeons?

The homozygous GG variant is rare in all pigeon populations but is found more in racing pigeons than in show pigeons (more than 3 times). The F-KERGG variant occurs in less than 5% of racing pigeons.

The fact that there are some well-known top pigeons that possess the G allele, despite the negative effect on performance, proves that using only this genetic marker is insufficient to breed a top pigeon. On the other hand, this may mean that there is still a possibility of genetic improvement with genetic markers, especially in the high-end segment.

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