OMIA:000357-8932 : Eye colour in Columba livia (rock pigeon)

In other species: Nile tilapia , dog , domestic cat , water buffalo , Japanese quail

Categories: Pigmentation phene

Mendelian trait/disorder: no

Considered a defect: no

Key variant known: no

Key variant is published: no

Cross-species summary: Iris colour

Species-specific name: bull, odd eyes

Species-specific description: Three main iris colours in pigeons have been described as orange, pearl (white) and bull (dark brown). In 2021, three independent groups reported a missense mutation in SLC2A11B as likely causal variant for the pearl iris colour (Andrade et al., 2021; Si et al., 2021; Maclary et al., 2021) – see OMIA:002416-8932 : Eye colour, SLC2A11B-related in Columba livia for details. Maclary et al., 2021 also investigated the bull (dark brown) iris colour: “In bull-eyed pigeons, both white and orange pigments are absent from the iris stroma, so the underlying dark melanin pigment of the iris pigment epithelium is not obscured (Bond 1919; Oliphant 1987). … the bull iris color is primarily found in birds with white plumage (Hollander, 1939). Breeders have also reported birds with a phenotype known as “odd eyes” (Levi 1986; Sell 2012), in which one iris is a dark bull color and the other is either orange or pearl, suggesting that bull eye color may have a stochastic component.”

Mapping: Maclary et al., 2021: “To identify the genetic basis of bull eye color, we used QTL mapping in two independent F2 intercrosses. In a cross between orange-eyed Pomeranian Pouter and bull-eyed Scandaroon pigeon breeds, F2 birds had either two bull eyes (n=41), two orange eyes (n=40), or “odd eyes”, where one eye has a pigmented iris stroma and the other eye is bull (n=12) (Fig. 2A). Using a binary model where odd-eyed birds were included in the “bull eye” group, we identified a QTL on linkage group 15 … . [The QTL included] EDNRB2, a gene involved in neural crest migration and pigment development.” The authors concluded that “bull eye is likely controlled by a heterogeneous collection of alleles across pigeon breeds. We also found that the EDNRB2 region is associated with regionalized plumage depigmentation (piebalding).” Maclary et al. (2023) report a likely causal variant for "recessive white and bull eye" as scaffold 507:11167700C>T; p.(E256K) (see OMIA:000375-8932 : Feather colour, white spotting, EDNRB2-related in Columba livia for details.)

Cite this entry

Nicholas, F. W., Tammen, I., & Sydney Informatics Hub. (2024). OMIA:000357-8932: Online Mendelian Inheritance in Animals (OMIA) [dataset].


Note: the references are listed in reverse chronological order (from the most recent year to the earliest year), and alphabetically by first author within a year.

2023 Maclary, E.T., Wauer, R., Phillips, B., Brown, A., Boer, E.F., Samani, A.M., Shapiro, M.D. :
An allelic series at the EDNRB2 locus controls diverse piebalding patterns in the domestic pigeon. PLoS Genet 19:e1010880, 2023. Pubmed reference: 37862332. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1010880.
2021 Andrade, P., Gazda, M.A., Araújo, P.M., Afonso, S., Rasmussen, J.A., Marques, C.I., Lopes, R.J., Gilbert, M.T.P., Carneiro, M. :
Molecular parallelisms between pigmentation in the avian iris and the integument of ectothermic vertebrates. PLoS Genet 17:e1009404, 2021. Pubmed reference: 33621224. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1009404.
Andrade, P., Carneiro, M. :
Pterin-based pigmentation in animals. Biol Lett 17:20210221, 2021. Pubmed reference: 34403644. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2021.0221.
Maclary, E.T., Phillips, B., Wauer, R., Boer, E.F., Bruders, R., Gilvarry, T., Holt, C., Yandell, M., Shapiro, M.D. :
Two genomic loci control three eye colors in the domestic pigeon (Columba livia). Mol Biol Evol 38:5376-5390, 2021. Pubmed reference: 34459920. DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msab260.
Si, S., Xu, X., Zhuang, Y., Gao, X., Zhang, H., Zou, Z., Luo, S.J. :
The genetics and evolution of eye color in domestic pigeons (Columba livia). PLoS Genet 17:e1009770, 2021. Pubmed reference: 34460822. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1009770.
2012 Sell, K., Sell, A. :
Pigeon Genetics: Applied Genetics in the Domestic Pigeon. Sell Publishing. Verlag 856 , 2012.
1987 Oliphant, L.W. :
Observations on the pigmentation of the pigeon iris. Pigment Cell Res 1:202-8, 1987. Pubmed reference: 3508278. DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0749.1987.tb00414.x.
1986 Levi, W. :
The Pigeon. Edition 2. Revised. Sumter, S.C.: Levi Publishing Co., Inc , 1986.
1939 Hollander, WF, Owen, RD :
Iris pigmentation in domestic pigeons Genetica 21:408-419, 1939.
1919 Bond, C. :
On certain factors concerned in the production of eye colour in birds. Journal of Genetics 9:69–81, 1919.

Edit History

  • Created by Imke Tammen2 on 06 Apr 2021
  • Changed by Imke Tammen2 on 06 Apr 2021
  • Changed by Imke Tammen2 on 02 Sep 2021
  • Changed by Imke Tammen2 on 03 Sep 2021
  • Changed by Imke Tammen2 on 23 Oct 2023
  • Changed by Imke Tammen2 on 09 Feb 2024