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THE LILAC CHEST MUTATION

IN GOULDIAN FINCHES

This report was initiated as a question has been sent to me:

Is the mutation “Lilac Chest” (or breast, but

hereafter namend as “chest”) also in Gouldian

Finch females present?

   History: The lilac chest mutation appeared for the first time in 1978 in England as an result of two white breasted gouldian finches. This offspring was a male. For a long time the appearance of the lilac chest was not confirmed as a mutation. Meanwhile (since around 2005) the lilac chest is recognized as a mutation and more popular around the world.  Important terms for understanding:  Gouldian finches owe their colourful plumages to carotenoids in interaction with melanins. The colour areas and the types of mutation are composed of red, yellow, black, red-brown and blue together. 1. Carotenoids are divided in Lutein and Canthaxanthin. Lutein is liable for the yellow pigment, while the from lutein synthesized carotinoide cantaxanthin is liable for the red colouring in gouldian finches (e.g. head). 2. Melanins are pigments and divided in eumelanin (liable for the black pigmentation) and phaeomelanin (liable for the reddish-brown pigmentation). 3. The colour blue in some parts, also in the purple chest is caused by refraction of light in the feather structure. Therefore, the colour blue is also referred to as "structural blue colour". Structural colouration is the production of colour by microscopically structured surfaces fine enough to interfere with visible light, also in combination with melanin (e.g. the chest colour).
Facts: Through changing, reducing or lossing of carotenoids and melanins in the genes we get the colour variants of the gouldian finches. Carotenoids are not present in the chest colour. Through the presence of structural blue in this areal of the gouldian plumage in combining with the presence, reduction or absence of melanin is the special chest colour visible. - Eumelanin and phaeomelanin in addition with the structural blue colour in the breast  result in a normal PURPLE BREAST. - Eumelanin and a deposit about 50% of the normal amount of phaeomelanin and the structural blue colour result in a LILAC BREAST. - If no eumelanin, phaeomelanin as well as the structural blue colour present we have a white chest.    The white-chest gene is autosomal recessive as well to the purple chest as to the lilac chest.   For the lilac chest we distinguish between two heredity traits  (1.) To the purple chest is the lilac chest autosomal recessive  heritable. (2.) To the white chest is the lilac chest autosomal dominant  heritable.  Why is that?  The lilac-chested gene is probably an allele of the white chest.     IMPORTANT NOTES:  1. The inheritage for the chest colour is to separate from the inheritage of the body colour.   2. The lilac chest mutation occurs in Gouldian Finches in combination with every head and body colour as well in both sexes (males and females).     3. The "Bad White Chested” or also called “Dirty White chested" gouldian finches should not be confused with the lilac chest mutation. This appearance is probably a modification and also probably not heritable. Slightly patches of purple or lilac colour or also dark striations are visible. These unwanted patches or striations can disappear with the next moulting.    4. Sometimes we also heard the term “Rose or Pink Breast”. There is no difference to the “Lilac Chest mutation”. In some countries are only different namings.
Appearance of the Lilac Chest in Gouldian Finches:   The lilac breast colour can have many various shades.  This depends on the reduction of the total amount of phaeomelanin in the gouldian finch.   The lilac chest is then visible, when the gouldian finch is - double-factor for the lilac chest - single-factor and “split” for the white chest    Best seen is the lilac chest colour in normal (green) body males. Then is the difference between the purple chest and the lilac chest clearly visible. - A normal (green) body male with a lilac chest shows the darkest lilac colour. - A red-headed (RH) single-factor gouldian male with a lilac chest is slightly lighter. - A red-headed (RH) double-factor male is more lighter than a single-factor male. In black-headed (BH) double-factor yellow (pastel-green) males is the lightest lilac colour visible. Also “Silver” Gouldians can have the lilac chest, but so brightened that the different between a 100 % white breasted and a lilac breasted “Silver” Gouldian is not clearly visible. The various shades appear to the amount of melanin reduction in each colour mutation.  In females the differences can be more difficult to define, due to the whole duller appearance.
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