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Member of the Month January 2014
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am just wondering if anybody knows where using the term "mutation" was coined to describe common color patterns (phenotypes) on budgies, and also if anyone has done lots of trials between these budgies to see the outcomes that are probable between 2 budgies who look a certain way? I have seen the word "mutation" commonly used on many websites, and from what I understand about genetics a mutation occurs when a random sequence in dna is copied wrong. The probabitlity of a mutation occuring more than once is like one in a million and isn't something you can breed for unless you expose eggs to radiation in a lab. I get confused sometimes when trying to learn about the common phenotypes because of the way the terms have been re defined.

About predicting chick outcomes- does anyone know of any scholarly papers written about this? I see questions about it asked a lot and I want to know the answer to those questions! The laws of Mendelian inheritance describe how genes are masked and inherited, and if applied to budgies it would mean that 2 budgies who look different can have offspring that look like neither parent; you would have to know their family tree and predict outcomes in ratios.

I hope that it doesn't confuse people even more! Nothing like a little scientific discussion to stir the pot a little, lol. Seriously though, I am truly confused because I know a little bit about genetics and even less about genetics in budgies.
 

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I'd suggest reading all the stickies at the top of the "Mutations" subforum under "Budgie Breeding" if you haven't already done so. :)
 

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Member of the Month January 2014
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yes I am very familiar with the mutation guide and the stickies, that is why I have these questions. For instance, albino and lutino are listed as sex linked, but all of the variant phenotype/genotype punnet squares are drawn as sex linked. The predictions treat all color as sex linked, but only albino and lutino are listed as such. Why? And then there are genes that affect the way pigment is expressed. Opaline, where pigment is diluted evenly up to 10% except on the head barring where the percentage is greater. Pied, where the absence of pigment is fragmented into specific areas. Are these effects also sex linked? Is the dominant/recessive relationship of dilute or pied corresponding to a normal wild budgie, or is it an effect that happens independently on top of any "mutation"? Is there a dominant/recessive relationship between effects such as opaline and pied, or do they function independently?

And the predictions are given assuming you know for sure whether your budgie has a gene that isn't expressed through its phenotype, but it seems like that rule is forgotten all the time when someone asks what their chicks will look like. The punnet squares only show probabilities, not definite outcomes, and you wouldn't know the split genes are in the chicks unless you did many breeding trials with other budgies who you were also certain about. Gg + Gg could yield chicks who are GG, Gg, and gg, some more likely than others, none guaranteed to occur or not occur. All the chicks could be GG but you wouldn't know it by looking at them.

I would like to find a source like a scholarly article because it explains and proves these things. I want to be able to simplify the information and make it accessable. its something I wonder about myself and see so many people ask aout. If people could understand it better, there wouldn't be so much breding for a mutation that is unlikely to occur, and pairs shoved together when they aren't bonded. These issues are important to me because the understanding would improve the ethics in breeding and reduce the number of unwanted chicks.
 

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Member of the Month January 2014
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I should add that genetics and inheritance can be very complicated the more you look into it. The mutation guide is pretty remarkble and obviously took a lot of work. When someone comes along and compiles all the information, adding more and making it simple for others to understand, it improves the quality of breeding ethics. Just as Lindsey has done with her guide and made it easier to understand, I want to do that too. I am not disrespecting what has been done already, only trying to understand it better. Just want to be sure to say that since it is sometimes hard to convey tone and attitude through an online forum.
 

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Member of the Month March 2011
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The simple fact is that genetics are not simple when it comes down to it if you have no background in how they work :) There are so many things that come in to play, and to expect people to be able to completely understand it without some research and effort is not reasonable unfortunately. It is almost like expecting someone with no knowledge of the basic ingredients of tomato sauce to be able to know what you are talking about when making it... it is just confusing if you have no idea what a tomato, onion, garlic, oregano etc is ;) Even at its most basic, you need to take some time to research and understand the fundamentals if you want to have any hope of grasping and really understanding it yourself, and to have the ability to explain it to others :)

We all try to make it as simple as possible for those who do not know a lot about genetics and how things work, but the simple fact is you can NOT really get much more simple than punit squares, and the even easier to understand the genetic prediction tables like I and many others have made. That is a easy as it comes: "What is your pair? Here is the outcome for this gene and how it behaves" When there are multiple mutations, you simply need to combine the odds and that is as simple as it cam possibly get... do you know what I mean? :)

The reason why you will find that mutation guides do not combine multiple mutations is that it will be even more complicated and confusing, and rather than helping people it just confuses them more. Believe me... I have tried :p A INO punit square will naturally be dealing only with that sex linked mutation, since it is the one in question. It would be even more confusing to add other mutations that are recessive or dominant that might not have any relevant point into the mix in question :) If you try to use all of the technical terms for those who have no genetic background or research under their belt already, you will just end up confusing them more than at the beginning unfortunatly.

In reality for most mutations (with the exception of a few) you simply need to understand the basics of how the genes are inherited is that is dominant? Recessive? Sex linked? Most genes generally speaking operate independently of each other, so you simply have to figure that the same genes will end up effecting the same chicks depending on the odds... does that make sense? For example, if you have a sf spangle and sf dominant pied... each mutation should in theory effect 50% of the chicks, but in a clutch to clutch basis some chicks will end up with neither of these genes, some with only one of either, and some with both of these genes. There are no hard and fast rules with each bird... it is simply a roll of the genetic dice and you will see this fact if you continue to breed :)

That is what I love about genetics, the simple fact of the matter is there is no guarantees in genetics! When it comes down to it, it really is all just a roll of the dice with the genes you are working with and on an individual clutch basis, it will almost always break these rules so don't take them too seriously.

When you look at hundreds and hundreds of chicks, yes the odds generally work out to the expected outcomes, but don't count on it 100% your nest box every time. And unfortunatly genetics just are not simple in reality, and what has been made so far is really as easy as it can get for new ones trying to understand what to expect for their birds :)
 

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Member of the Month March 2011
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And yes, recessive or sex linked genes can easily be hidden for quite a few generations if they simply due to the genetic gamble did not show visually, or if they did not have a mate to give the additional gene to create the visual mutation. Especially with recessive mutations, can they hide for many, many generations. I have heard if family lines of birds hiding a recessive gene for 15+ generations before happening to get the right mate with another recessive gene, which only has a 25% chance of getting a visual chick in this case ideally... so you can see why it could hide for so long :giggle:

I have had SO many clutches I can give you examples of with both extremes, let me know if you want some visuals ;)
 

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Member of the Month January 2014
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Yes yes, I get what you're saying. I totally understood it as a roll of the dice, that is a good analogy for how genes are combined and inherited. I was trying to think of a way to explain it visually so that it would be understood before making the mistake of breeding with expectations. But you're right that people would figure it out after only a few trial and error pair matching. I appreciate statistics, you won't see me buying lotto tickets at the gas station (lol!)

I guess the thing that made me thinking a lot about it was the benefits I see when I allow the budgies to choose their mates, and how surprised I was to see that it is common to pair them together in hopes of achieving certain color outcomes in chicks. I was just like, "what?!" Because there are no guarantees. And pairs who aren't bonded can have so many problems that hurt the babies. Then I was wondering, well how probable is it for some of these mutations to occur? I can't imagine why else someone would put 2 budgies together with a nest box and hope they breed when they aren't bonded. (But maybe that is how most people do it?) And that lead to what I posted here. I have been making an illustrated guide for my personal use to help me identify and understand the variations, which ones can be combined, etc. I have been brainstorming up ways to illustrate the information in a way that makes it easy to see, but I can't explain things that I only understand in fragments.

I think I will go on khan academy and brush up on the basics of genetics :) that will probably make it a lot easier.
 

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MOTM March 2012
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Yes yes, I get what you're saying. I totally understood it as a roll of the dice, that is a good analogy for how genes are combined and inherited. I was trying to think of a way to explain it visually so that it would be understood before making the mistake of breeding with expectations. But you're right that people would figure it out after only a few trial and error pair matching. I appreciate statistics, you won't see me buying lotto tickets at the gas station (lol!)

I guess the thing that made me thinking a lot about it was the benefits I see when I allow the budgies to choose their mates, and how surprised I was to see that it is common to pair them together in hopes of achieving certain color outcomes in chicks. I was just like, "what?!" Because there are no guarantees. And pairs who aren't bonded can have so many problems that hurt the babies. Then I was wondering, well how probable is it for some of these mutations to occur? I can't imagine why else someone would put 2 budgies together with a nest box and hope they breed when they aren't bonded. (But maybe that is how most people do it?) And that lead to what I posted here. I have been making an illustrated guide for my personal use to help me identify and understand the variations, which ones can be combined, etc. I have been brainstorming up ways to illustrate the information in a way that makes it easy to see, but I can't explain things that I only understand in fragments.

I think I will go on khan academy and brush up on the basics of genetics :) that will probably make it a lot easier.
Budgies do not mate for life.
They will both in the wild and in captivity swap over mates for various reasons.
When we breed our birds we condition them beforehand, during this process the pair has time to bond. There is no forcing two budgies to breed together, if they are incompatable they simply will not breed, so we change around the pair till we do get ones that are compatable.

I personally will breed some of my pairs for certain mutations. If someone comes to me wanting a chick of a certain colour I can tell them whether or not it would be possible for me to breed for one.
 

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Member of the Month January 2014
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I realize they don't mate for life and that you can't "make" them breed. Thanks for explaining how you pair them, I just wasn't sure what the process was like for other people.

What I have been doing is I put them all together in a large enclosure and I watch them. I haven't seen any of my budgies try to mate outside of breeding season, but they will display affection and start to form bonds. I separate them and put more in their diet, and once they are in breeding condition then I put a pair together with a nest box and they go at it right away. They retain their bonds even while separated with specific calls to one another. I have done it that way a handful of times this year, so its not like I have years of experience with breeding. I just spend a lot of time observing their behavior since I work at home. I guess I just imagined that other people did the same thing (lol), I have had budgies for a long time but never talked about this stuff to other budgie enthusiast until now. Its always interesting to me to see what other people do.

The pairs that are bonded in the group have been really good at co parenting together. I just imagine the process being rockier if they were introduced as singles. Another thing is how the females will ignore one of the males and reject his flirtations.....until he starts to copy the male that all the females are attracted to. Its pretty cool to watch their social behaviors unravel in the group setting.
 

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Hi Caitlin,

To answer your first question about how mutations happen and are passed along; mutations are relatively common "mistakes" in the process of copying dna. What is rare are mutations that are not fatal, like something that prevents some important process from occuring. Non-fatal mutations that reduce an individual's chance of survival or reproducing can hang around in a species' DNA but rarely be expressed because it is present in so few individuals. My impression, but I haven't done a lot of research on it, is that most of the color mutations were probably present in the budgie genome in the wild but were very rare and likely resulted in being eaten, i.e. blue budgies don't blend in well, or not getting a mate, i.e. blue budgies don't have the ultraviolet coloration that the girls like. It took many generations of breeding in captivity, and probably lots of inbreeding to find these mutations and then begin to select for them. Once you have birds that show specific mutations it is easy to continue breeding birds with the same mutation.


Alternatively, some of these mutations could be new and the result of inbreeding during domesitation and the selective breeding process. I am not sure about that though. My understanding of genetics starts to break down here. But, none of the budgie color mutations are a result of radiation or anything like that. Just random, non-fatal, mistakes in the replication process that gave us pretty pretty birds!!


About pairing up birds just to get certain outcomes instead of using already bonded pairs. These guys are driven to reproduce and will do so if their hormones tell them too. Males are likely to take any female who will have them, it is the female that is going to be more picky though as I think they do all of the selecting in the wild. These guys are also WILDLY promiscuous. I colony breeding, and I suspect the wild too, a clutch can have as many fathers as there are eggs! Monogamy in birds is largely social, they almost always are trying to get some on the side!

Oh and yeah, I have 2 biology degrees so sorry if that was more info than you needed/wanted!


Oh and the last thing you said about one male copying another. I didn't really catch on to that until you said it! One of my birds seems to have gotten in to Owl's good graces by copying her beau, I didn't think of it that way until you pointed it out! That is good for me because if I do breed I want to breed Owl with her boyfriend's best friend since they are both recessive pieds. We'll see if Cheerio learned enough of Twist's moves to impress Owl!
 
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