European Robin Genome Note

European robin
European robin, Erithacus rubecula (Image: Pipilongstockings/Flickr)

The genome note for the European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) has just been released on Wellcome Open Research: https://wellcomeopenresearch.org/articles/6-172

Once voted the UK’s favourite bird, this Yuletide pin-up is also notable for being the first species in which the use of the Earth’s magnetic field for compass orientation during migration was described. However, the exact mechanism by which this magnetoreception occurs is not yet understood. Two main complementary hypotheses are currently discussed. One is based on magnetite particles in the beak area of the bird, the other on a light-mediated biochemical reaction that could utilise directional information provided by the Earth’s magnetic field to give directional information for migratory journeys. This high quality annotated assembly of the robin’s genome sequence can therefore help researchers to investigate the genetic factors in more detail, and learn more about other migratory birds too.


This Genome Note is part of the 25 Genomes project, a precursor to the Darwin Tree of Life project led by the Wellcome Sanger Institute.