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Superb starling assembly

Superb starlings (Lamprotornis superbus) really are as impressive as their name suggests. Their shimmering, iridescent green and blue plumage makes them hard to miss on the African savanna.

Superb starling, photo by Dustin Rubenstein, Columbia University [CC]

Yet, what really makes them stand out from other birds is their complex social system. Superb starlings are plural cooperative breeders that form some of the largest and most complicated social groups of any bird in the world. Read more about superb starlings in the Natural History article The Secret Lives of Starlings!

Today we release the chromosome-length genome assembly for the superb starling. This genome assembly is an upgrade of CU_Lasu_v1 assembly from the recent paper by Dustin Rubenstein and coauthors (Rubenstein et al. 2021). The paper uses functional genomics to explore the developmental basis of iridescent plumage in superb starlings, which produce both iridescent blue and non-iridescent red feathers.

We thank SeaWorld for their help with the Hi-C sample used for the upgrade!

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