CMU International Research Team Published on the High-Impact Journal Cell, with Taiwan’s National Bird “Formosan Magpie” Honorably Selected as the Cover
Date：December 4, 2019
An international research team led by China Medical University (CMU) investigated the mystery and evolution of bird’s flight feathers from different science perspective. Their research finding was published in the high-impact journal Cell, with Taiwan’s national bird “Formosan Magpie” selected as the cover of the journal that brings Taiwan to the world academic stage.
“This is the first time Formosan Magpie appears on the international journal. It is the pride of Taiwan.” said President Mien-Chie Hung happily in the press conference.
CMU Center of Excellence for Integrative Stem Cell organized a cross-disciplinary research team to explore feathers from different aspects, including the biophysical characteristics of feathers and the basic molecular biology of stem cell formation. “The multi-level modular structure of feathers enables birds to adapt to the environmental challenges during evolution. The elasticity of the modular structure also allow different species of birds to develop specialized feathers with different functions depending on the body part.” said CMU Professor Wen-Tau Juan.
To probe into the origin of feathers’ complex structure, the research team also analyze an amber fossil that is recently discovered in Myanmar. The amber preserves delicate three-dimensional structure that wasn’t being found before. CMU’s research team discovered that the ancient feathers possess similar basic structure but with more primitive characteristics. “We learned how skin turn into feathers, how feathers transform into various structures of down feather, contour feather, flight feather, and moreover, how flight feathers adjust to accommodate the living environment. We found that it is the feathers’ adaptable modular structure that made birds successfully fit in different environment”, explained Academician Cheng-Ming Chuong.
Dr. Shih-Chieh Hung, the Director of Center of Excellence for Integrative Stem Cell, added “The structure of feathers is an inspiration to future innovative biomimetic applications. The invention of composites may help in building light but firm unscrewed vehicles, durable and elastic wind turbine, better medical implants, and prosthetic devices.”
In the future, CMU research team will focus on both basics and applications in the research. Furthermore, explore the principle of biomaterial structures inspired by nature, and the application in the design of biomimetic materials. The team will also expand their research in the area of molecular signalling, in order to investigate how stem cell in hair follicles is guided to construct complex biological structure.