The hereditary information of every living organismis is carried by its DNA. DNA contains a genetic blueprint that uniquely defines an individual. Two individuals can only possess identical genetic codes if they are identical twins. The genetic code is fixed throughout a pigeon’s lifetime. By analysing the DNA, the genetic code of a pigeon (the so-called genotype) can be determined. This genotype can be used to identify a pigeon, but can also be used in parentage analysis.
- Parentage analysis: The DNA-genotype of an individual is derived from the DNA-genotype of both parents; offspring inherit 50% of their genetic code from their mother and 50% from their father. Parentage analysis uses this information to determine an individual’s origin. Whether an individual is indeed an offspring of its suspected parents can be determined by comparing their DNA-genotypes.
- Identification: The DNA-genotype of an individual may be used a “passport” that can later be used to identify the individual. This passport may for instance identify a bird that has been stolen.
- Birdsexing: In many pigeon species, external sex characteristics are lacking and the sex of an individual pigeon cannot be determined from its appearance. To determine the sex of an individual pigeon, DNA-analysis performed on plucked feathers is a fast and reliable method. A sensitive method is used to detect a small part of specific DNA on the sex chromosomes, which is different between male (ZZ) and female (ZW) pigeons.
Young pigeon disease syndrome is a serious illness that may cause the death of young pigeons within a few days after showing the first symptoms. Common symptoms are general symptoms of illness such as fluffed feathers and a low reactivity, combined with (green) diarrhoea and vomiting. Young pigeon disease syndrome is caused by one or a combination of three different viruses: pigeon herpesvirus, pigeon circovirus and pigeon adenovirus. Secondary infections with bacteria (i.e. E. coli) and fungi may cause additional problems. The viruses can be transmitted through the feather dust of adult pigeons carrying them without showing symptoms. Gendika tests for the presence of the three viruses.