Green versus wild type

When we search for the meaning of wild type in a dictionary, it usually says: The wild type (WT) is the phenotype of the typical form of a species as it occurs in nature”. In other words in lovebirds we mean the ‘normal’ green phenotypes.

Yet many aviculturists distinguish between the green birds and the wild type. They assume that most green birds in aviculture can have a lot of hidden split factors and are therefore not 100% pure wild type. That would imply that wild birds in their natural habitat would all have the same ‘pure’ genome. They have a point when they say that most green birds in aviculture are not pure-bred due to the presence of various split factors for colour mutations, but I am afraid that it is a major and common misunderstanding that the gene pool within one and the same species is completely the same for all individuals and that there is a typical “wildtype genome“.

If we look closely we will see that each bird has its own features, just like humans. Some are somewhat taller and might have a slightly different colour than others. Some might be more susceptible to certain diseases. All this is of course related to their own genetic pattern or genotype. Considering the fact that each bird receives a unique gene pair from its parents (during each meiosis -production of sex cells, several crossing-overs occur), this genome will of course be different for each individual. This is called “genetic diversity”. In other words, each genome is unique and thanks to this genetic diversity, we can, for example, identify the parents of each young on the basis of a DNA test. And important: but the bigger this genetic diversity within a species, the bigger their ability to adjust and hence their probability of survival. So this genetic diversity is of the utmost importance.

In other words, it is not incorrect to use the term wild type for the green birds in aviculture. But I do understand the people who want to make a clear distinction between green birds in aviculture and the green birds in nature.

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