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The silky contour feather from a Chinese Silkie chicken.

The feather is an excellent model for evolution and development. The Silkie chicken breed is fixed for the silky-feather mutation, and is named based on the fascinating silky-feather phenotype. In contrast to the closed pennaceous feathers in the wild-type, the silky-feathers lack hooklets on the distal barbules and fail to form the vane. In this issue, Feng et al. report the identification of the silky-feather mutation located in the promoter of PDSS2. This is the first report of a feather structure variation associated with PDSS2 and provides new insight into the feather morphogenesis.

Image Credit: Chungang Feng, China Agricultural University, Beijing, China