Parrot disease PBFD linked to feather coloration in Crimson Rosella – Platycercus elegans

December 15th, 2014 | by LubosTomiska
Parrot disease PBFD linked to feather coloration in Crimson Rosella – Platycercus elegans

VIDEO IN – The coloration of the Crimson Rosella ( Platycercus elegans ) can vary greatly. What is more, the color of a bird can be linked with resistance against the lethal parrot disease PBFD ( Psittacine beak and feather disease ). This news is comming from a research done by Centre of Integrative Ecology (CIE) in australian Deakin. The results of work lasting for 8 years were published in the prestigious american journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA. According to found observation this parrot disease is not lethal for hybrids of different geographic forms.

Such discovery can have great impact on veterinary precautions in the wild critically endangered bird species. „Despite its name, the Crimson Rosella ( Platycercus elegans ) is perhaps Australia’s most colour variable bird and the cause of its striking and beautiful diversity has long fascinated scientists,“ Justin Eastwood described on as a student and a member of the research team and continued: „I was surprised to find that the variety of extraordinary colours in the Crimson Rosella ( Platycercus elegans ) appears to be linked to something known as Beak and Feather Disease Virus, which can be fatal in other species.“.



Feathers from parrots affected by PBFD.


PBFD as threat for Orange-bellied Parrot

“The virus is only found in parrots; it’s no danger to humans, but the danger it presents to parrots seems to vary from species to species and it can be pretty nasty,“ said Mr. Eastwood. Australian government considers PBFD as one of the biggest threaten for biodiversity and in 1999 a special programm was launched. According to the second author of this article Mathew Berg the PBFD circovirus is monitored very intensively in case of the Orange-bellied Parrot – one of the most endangered parrot in the world. In the wild we can find last 50 birds.

“The virus is also of global conservation concern and while it may be confined to parrots, around 25 per cent of the world’s approximately 350 species have been estimated at risk of global extinction,” Dr Berg explained. „Our research results are not only good news for Crimson Rosellas, but we now have a good model species with which to study the disease, which is extremely important if we are to minimise its impact on the world’s parrot population,“ added and is also saying that as in people for somebody the flue is lethal and for somebody not, in birds we observe the same. So PBFD can have different impact on different parrot species.



Are all parrot hybrids resistent against PBFD parrot disease?

“Rarely has the population structure of a virus or other parasite been studied in free-living hybrid populations, so our study is rather unusual,” Dr Berg said. „Although the virus appears to be rather benign in the Crimson Rosella ( Platycercus elegans ) it may still be infecting other parrot species and as Crimson Rosella is common and geographically widespread, this risk needs to be determined,” he added. This issue could be solved by new study which will be started in the beginning of the new year.

“Our hope is that by better understanding how the virus affects birds we may be able to reduce the extinction risk to parrots. We also aim to understand how this parrot disease and wildlife interact and co-evolve, including the circumstances under which disease can promote the formation of new species,” Dr Berg said.

On this project CIE participates with Zoo Victoria, the Geelong Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases, Charles Sturt University and Biosecurity Victoria.

There is still no efficient PBFD treatment existing.

Title photo: © Peter Shanks. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.


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