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Gene expression in the brain of a migratory songbird during breeding and migration.

  • John Boss
  • Miriam Liedvogel
  • Max Lundberg
  • Nils Reischke
  • Peter Olsson
  • Sara Naurin
  • Susanne Åkesson
  • Dennis Hasselquist
  • Anthony Wright
  • Mats Grahn
  • Staffan Bensch
Publishing year: 2016
Language: English
Publication/Series: Movement Ecology
Volume: 4
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: BioMed Central

Abstract english

We still have limited knowledge about the underlying genetic mechanisms that enable migrating species of birds to navigate the globe. Here we make an attempt to get insight into the genetic architecture controlling this complex innate behaviour. We contrast the gene expression profiles of two closely related songbird subspecies with divergent migratory phenotypes. In addition to comparing differences in migratory strategy we include a temporal component and contrast patterns between breeding adults and autumn migrating juvenile birds of both subspecies. The two willow warbler subspecies, Phylloscopus trochilus trochilus and P. t. acredula, are remarkably similar both in phenotype and genotype and have a narrow contact zone in central Scandinavia. Here we used a microarray gene chip representing 23,136 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) from the zebra finch Taeniopygia guttata to identify mRNA level differences in willow warbler brain tissue in relation to subspecies and season.


  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Zoology


  • Genetics of migration
  • Centre for Animal Movement Research
  • Molecular Ecology and Evolution Lab
  • ISSN: 2051-3933
Dennis Hasselquist
E-mail: dennis [dot] hasselquist [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se



+46 46 222 37 08



Research group


Doctoral students and postdocs

Research fellows


Jacob Roved

PhD Students, main supervisor

PhD Students, assistant supervisor


Interview about my research in the Swedish podcast "Forskarn & jag"