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Concept: Japanese Quail

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The amount of resources provided by the mother before birth has important and long-lasting effects on offspring fitness. Despite this, there is a large amount of variation in maternal investment seen in natural populations. Life-history theory predicts that this variation is maintained through a trade-off between the benefits of high maternal investment for the offspring and the costs of high investment for the mother. However, the proximate mechanisms underlying these costs of reproduction are not well understood. Here we used artificial selection for high and low maternal egg investment in a precocial bird, the Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) to quantify costs of maternal reproductive investment.

Concepts: Natural selection, Reproduction, Evolution, Bird, Quail, Coturnix, Japanese Quail, ARIA Charts

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Camouflage is conferred by background matching and disruption, which are both affected by microhabitat [1]. However, microhabitat selection that enhances camouflage has only been demonstrated in species with discrete phenotypic morphs [2, 3]. For most animals, phenotypic variation is continuous [4, 5]; here we explore whether such individuals can select microhabitats to best exploit camouflage. We use substrate selection in a ground-nesting bird (Japanese quail, Coturnix japonica). For such species, threat from visual predators is high [6] and egg appearance shows strong between-female variation [7]. In quail, variation in appearance is particularly obvious in the amount of dark maculation on the light-colored shell [8]. When given a choice, birds consistently selected laying substrates that made visual detection of their egg outline most challenging. However, the strategy for maximizing camouflage varied with the degree of egg maculation. Females laying heavily maculated eggs selected the substrate that more closely matched egg maculation color properties, leading to camouflage through disruptive coloration. For lightly maculated eggs, females chose a substrate that best matched their egg background coloration, suggesting background matching. Our results show that quail “know” their individual egg patterning and seek out a nest position that provides most effective camouflage for their individual phenotype.

Concepts: Natural selection, Evolution, Bird, Phenotype, Quail, Coturnix, Japanese Quail, Selection

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Avian chemical communication is a rapidly emerging field, but has been hampered by a critical lack of information on volatile chemicals that communicate ecologically relevant information (semiochemicals). A possible, but as yet unexplored, function of olfaction and chemical communication in birds is in parent-embryo and embryo-embryo communication. Communication between parents and developing embryos may act to mediate parental behaviour, while communication between embryos can control the synchronicity of hatching. Embryonic vocalisations and vibrations have been implicated as a means of communication during the later stages of development but in the early stages, before embryos are capable of independent movement and vocalisation, this is not possible. Here we show that volatiles emitted from developing eggs of Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) convey information on egg fertility, along with the sex and developmental status of the embryo. Specifically, egg volatiles changed over the course of incubation, differed between fertile and infertile eggs, and were predictive of embryo sex as early as day 1 of incubation. Egg odours therefore have the potential to facilitate parent-embryo and embryo-embryo interactions by allowing the assessment of key measures of embryonic development long before this is possible through other modalities. It also opens up the intriguing possibility that parents may be able to glean further relevant information from egg volatiles, such as the health, viability and heritage of embryos. By determining information conveyed by egg-derived volatiles, we hope to stimulate further investigation into the ecological role of egg odours.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Embryo, Developmental biology, Ecology, Fertility, Embryology, Quail, Japanese Quail

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This study was carried out to evaluate the effectiveness of an alcoholic propolis extract (15%) as a disinfectant for Japanese quail (Coturnix coturnix japonica) hatching eggs. A total of 600 eggs were randomly divided into four experimental groups: 1) negative control (NC), without disinfection, 2) control ©, fumigated with formaldehyde gas, 3) (A), sprayed with 96% alcohol, and 4) (P), sprayed with 15% alcoholic propolis extract. The eggs were incubated artificially in a BIOS hatching apparatus under standard conditions. On the 14th day, the eggs were candled to determine the number of infertile eggs and dead embryos and samples were collected for microbial analysis. After 17.5 d, fertility, hatchability, embryonic mortality, and eggshell conductance were calculated. Fertile eggs sprayed with propolis were shown to have a lower eggshell conductance constant (egg weight loss) than eggs from groups C and A. Total microbial activity on the eggshells did not differ significantly between groups, but Staphylococcus aureus, Micrococcus spp., Bordetella spp., and Chryseobacterium meningosepticum isolates were significantly affected by the propolis treatment. There were no significant differences between treatments for total hatchability, embryonic mortality, and chick body weight on the 1st, 7th, and 14th days of life. The total chick survivability during the first 2 wk was significantly higher in group P than in the other groups. The results indicate that spraying hatching eggs with 15% propolis as a disinfectant can be recommended as a safe and natural sanitizer in place of formaldehyde, with no negative effect on quail chicks.

Concepts: Staphylococcus aureus, Bird, Quail, Coturnix, Japanese Quail, Antiseptic, Chicken, Disinfectant

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The complex physiology of aging involves a number of molecular and biochemical events, manifested as signs of senescence. Japanese quail is a very unique and advantageous model to study the signs and symptoms of senescence in the central and peripheral modules of HPG axis. In the present study, we have investigated the age dependent variations in hypothalamic deep brain photoreceptors (DBPs), central GnRH-I/II-GnIH-Mel1cR system, testicular GnRH-GnIH system, testicular steroidogenic genes and proteins, androgen receptor (AR) and serum testosterone level in quail of different age groups [3-wk (sexually immature), 6-wk (sexually mature and crossed the puberty), 16-wk (adult, sexually active and showing full breeding phase) and 144-wk (aged)]. Findings of our present study showed the differential expression of these genes/proteins in quail of different age groups. The low levels of the DBPs, GnRH-I, GnIH, Mel1cR in hypothalamus and GnRH-II in midbrain, significantly decreased testicular GnRH/GnRH-R-GnIH, steroidogenic genes/proteins and serum testosterone were observed in immature quail. The significantly increased expression of opsins in the DBPs, GnRH-I, GnIH, Mel1cR in hypothalamus and GnRH-II in midbrain influences the testicular GnRH-GnIH and stimulate the testicular steroidogenesis in mature and adult quail. In aged quail, the significantly decreased levels of hypothalamic DBPs, GnRH-I, GnIH, Mel1cR and midbrain GnRH-II modulates the testicular GnRH-GnIH and further suppresses the genes/proteins involved in steroidogenesis and results in reduced serum testosterone. Hence, it can be concluded from our findings that the testicular steroidogenesis and its neuroendocrine regulation varies with age, in Japanese quail.

Concepts: Hypothalamus, Senescence, Testosterone, Quail, Coturnix, Japanese Quail, Ageing, Puberty

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The study was conducted to examine the management practices and constraints associated with quail production in southwestern Nigeria. Data were collected through a survey of 113 quail bird farmers selected by multi-stage sampling technique from three states of southwestern Nigeria. Data were analyzed mainly by descriptive statistics with values compared across states using relevant statistics at certain instances. The results show that quail farming is a relatively new enterprise with farmers' average year of experience estimated as 4.52 years. Production was predominantly for the sale of eggs and table birds (46.90%). They were reared under intensive system (87.61%) and in deep litters (53.10%). Birds were commonly reared with chicken (71.03% of the farmers). Foundation stocks were sourced from commercial farms (33.63%) and hatcheries (25.66%), while birds were fed on compounded feed by 73.45% of the farmers in the morning and evening (55.75%). Veterinary support services were sought occasionally by 76.99% of the farmers while 55.7 and 40.71% of the farmers vaccinated and dewormed their birds, respectively. Disease incidence was generally low across the states with incidence in 13.27% of the farms with associated mortality of 2.05%. Quail eggs and birds were predominantly sold at farm gate (81.42%) at average prices of N632.94 per crate and N584.09 per bird respectively. Notable constraints were inadequate technical knowledge on feed formulation, difficulty in meat processing and marketing, which need to be addressed for upscaling the technology.

Concepts: Bird, Quail, Coturnix, Japanese Quail, Chicken, Meat, Farm, Phasianidae

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This study was conducted to investigate and compare the effect of dietary probiotic mixture (PM) and organic acid (OA) mixture with fermented soybean meal (FSBM) on performance, crop, and ceca microbiota, small intestine morphology, and serum lipid profile in Japanese quails. A total of 800 day-old Japanese quails was randomly allotted to 5 treatments with 8 replicate pens of 20 birds each, for 35 days. The experimental diets consisted of a control corn-soybean meal diet and 4 test diets: 1) control diet + 0.1% PM; 2) control diet + 0.2% OA mixture; 3) control diet + the combination of both PM and OA; and 4) an additives-free diet in which the soybean meal in the control diet was replaced with FSBM. The results indicated that in starter and the entire rearing periods, FSBM, PM, and PM+OA diets had significantly lower FCR compared to control or OA diets (P < 0.05). Birds in the FSBM group gained higher weight than control and OA birds (P < 0.05; 1 to 35 d). At d 21 and 35, birds fed the control diet showed significantly lower numbers of lactic acid bacteria in the crop, while coliforms were higher in the cecal content compared to the other diets (P < 0.05). At d 21, the villus height and villus height to crypt depth ratio in the duodenum and jejunum of birds fed PM, PM+OA, and FSBM diets were greater than in other treatments (P < 0.05). The serum concentrations of cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol of birds fed PM, PM+OA, and FSBM diets were significantly lower than birds in control and AO groups (P < 0.05). The results obtained herein suggest that FSBM exhibits probiotic properties and, when used in substitution of SBM in Japanese quail diet, can improve growth performance, balance of desirable gastrointestinal microbiota in crop and ceca, small intestinal morphology, and serum lipid profile-likewise, a probiotic supplement.

Concepts: Bacteria, Lipoprotein, Large intestine, Intestine, Small intestine, Quail, Japanese Quail, Digestion

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Avidin is key egg white antimicrobial protein with strong binding capacity for biotin, an essential growth and immune cell precursor. As such, it is assumed to have a pronounced, though still poorly explored, effect on hatchling phenotype. We tested the effect of experimentally increased egg white avidin concentration (AVIDIN+) on hatching success, chick morphology, post-hatching growth performance and innate immune function in a model bird, Japanese Quail (Coturnix japonica). Probability of embryo survival in the late embryonic phase increased with increasing egg weight in control eggs, but not in AVIDIN+ eggs. Chicks hatching from lighter AVIDIN+ eggs had a shorter tarsus than chicks hatching from heavier AVIDIN+ eggs. This suggests that an increase in egg white avidin favours embryo survival in lighter eggs during late embryogenesis, but at the expense of reduced structural body size. Plasma complement activity in 6-day old AVIDIN+ chicks decreased with increasing body mass and tarsus length; the opposite was true for control chicks, implying that the later post-hatching innate immune function of larger chicks was compromised by an increase in egg white avidin concentration. Here, we first documented important role of egg white antimicrobials on maintenance of embryo viability, avian hatchlings morphology and immune phenotype.

Concepts: Immune system, Innate immune system, Egg, Quail, Coturnix, Japanese Quail, Egg white, Egg yolk

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Avian require comfortable temperatures for optimal development and heat stress is a high concern in warm weather countries. We aimed to assess the dynamics of immunoendocrine and biochemical variables responses of birds exposed to a heat stressor applied during daylight hours, during the chronic stress and the recovery periods. We hypothesize that variables involved in the birds response will be differentially and gradually modified during those periods. Female quail (n = 210) were housed in six rearing boxes. At 29 days of age, the temperature in three boxes was increased from 24 to 34 °C during the light period throughout the nine days (Stress Treatment). The other three boxes remained at 24 °C and were used as controls. The subsequent 12 days were considered as recovery period. Different sets of 12 birds/treatment were blood-sampled at 29 (basal), 32, 35, 38 (stress), 41, 44, 47, and 50 (recovery) days of age, respectively. Immunoendocrine (corticosterone, lymphoproliferation, heterophil/lymphocyte ratio (H/L), and antibody response) and biochemical (glucose, total proteins, globulins, and albumin) variables were assessed. During stress, progressive corticosterone and H/L increments, and antibody titers and lymphoproliferation decreases were detected. No clear pattern of changes was found in biochemical variables. During recovery, while corticosterone and lymphoproliferation had recovered three days after the stressor ended, H/L and antibody responses required respectively nine and 12 days to recover to their basal levels, respectively. Findings suggest that immunity is already threatened when heat stress is sustained for three or more days. However, the system appears resilient, needing six to 12 days to recover to their basal responses.

Concepts: Antibody, Protein, Temperature, Quail, Coturnix, Japanese Quail, Elasticity, Common Quail

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Chlorpyrifos is a widely used organophosphate pesticide (OP). In birds and mammals OP exhibits a toxic effect via inhibition of cholinesterases [acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and butyrylcholinesterase (BChE)] and through oxidative/nitrosative stress. In this study, the influence of chlorpyrifos on cholinesterase activity, parameters of oxidative stress [malondialdehyde (MDA); glutathione (GSH); superoxide dismutase (SOD); nitrite concentration (NO2-); hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)], and inflammatory parameter [activity of myeloperoxidase (MPO)] in the brain of Japanese quail (Coturnix japanica) was examined. The study was conducted on a total of 60 male Japanese quails (one control and 5 experimental groups, n = 10), 3 to 4 wk old. Quails were administered by gavage chlorpyrifos (CPF) for 7 consecutive da at doses of 0.375 mg/kg BW, 0.75 mg/kg BW, 1.5 mg/kg BW, 3 mg/kg BW, and 6 mg/kg BW. Our studies have shown that all doses of CPF significantly inhibited both cholinesterases in brain: AChE from 22.74 to 37.83% and BChE from 19.53 to 61.9%, and that inhibition was dose dependent. Also, CPF has led to an increase in the concentration of MDA, GSH, NO2-, and H2O2 and activity of SOD and MPO. Overall, these results support the hypothesis that CPF causes oxidative stress and inflammatory response. This research was carried out on quails because there is hardly any or not enough data about the neurotoxic effect of CPF and especially about its influence on oxidative stress in birds. This study is highly important because we are witnessing massive avian mortality in certain countries due to pesticides.

Concepts: Oxidative stress, Reactive oxygen species, Superoxide dismutase, Hydrogen peroxide, Quail, Japanese Quail, Acetylcholine, Acetylcholinesterase