Research sheds light on how patterns form in bird feathers Enlarge. Feathers exhibit complex pigment patterns and can be a great model to learn how morphogenesis patterns stem cells into organized tissues.
Color patterns of bird plumage affect animal behavior and speciation. Diverse patterns are present in different species and within the individual. Here, we study the cellular and molecular basis of feather pigment pattern formation. Melanocyte progenitors are distributed as a horizontal ring in the proximal follicle, sending melanocytes vertically up into the epithelial cylinder which gradually emerges as feathers grow. Different pigment patterns form by modulating the presence, arrangement, or differentiation of melanocytes