Taking hospitality to new heights

first_imgDeon Prinsloo (in the middle) stands with porters from The Palazzo hotel. The golden keys on Prinsloo’s jacket indicate that the head concierge of the hotel is a member of the prestigious Les Clefs d’Or.(Images: Ray Maota)MEDIA CONTACTS• Deon PrinslooThe Palazzo: Head concierge and guestrelations manager+ 27 11 510 3743RELATED ARTICLES• Hotel group expanding global reach• SA’s Singita takes top travel award• Africa’s greenest hotel for Cape Town• South Africa’s tourist highlightsRay MaotaDeon Prinsloo, the head concierge of The Palazzo at Montecasino, is not only a man of excellence when it comes to the hospitality industry, he is a man determined to change the outlook of hospitality in South Africa.Prinsloo, an articulate man whose face lights up when speaking about the hospitality industry, recently gained membership into the highly exclusive Les Clef d’Or – the Golden Keys – an international association of top-class concierges.Les Clefs d’Or has been operating since 1929. It started in Paris with 11 members; today it has 4 000 members from 39 countries and is governed by an international president and committee.However, only eight of those thousands are from South Africa, and Prinsloo is one of them.The word concierge dates back to the mid-17th century Europe when hosts, usually of a lavish property or castle, provided a servant whose prime responsibility was attending to the comfort of their travelling guests.Prinsloo, who has been in the industry for 25 years, said: “The concierge is the hotel’s ambassador. The concierge must maintain the reputation that the hotel has earned by making sure all the needs of the guests are met.”Prinsloo added that he was elated to have been accepted into this prestigious global community of concierges that strives for perfection in the hospitality industry.“The criteria for membership are stringent. Only head concierges who have been at five-star hotels for five years or more are able to apply and applicants are evaluated on their problem-solving capability and professional conduct,” said Prinsloo.The other previous recipients of the Golden Keys in South Africa are Ronnie Govender, Sandton Sun; Archie Christodoulides, Michelangelo Hotel in Sandton; Claude-Francois Ndala, Beverly Hills Hotel in Umhlanga, north of Durban; Lizelle De Haas, Radisson Blu Sandton; Vinny Maharaj, Intercontinental Sandton Towers; Billy Chetty, Davinci Hotel and Suites in Sandton; and Ryan Van Zyl, the Table Bay Hotel in Cape Town.Early beginningsPrinsloo started his career as a barman at the Killarney Hotel, in Vanderbijlpark to the south of Johannesburg, while still a student at the Vaal Triangle Technikon.“This was one of the most exciting times in my life as I was learning the ins and outs of the hospitality industry,” said Prinsloo.Prinsloo eventually rose to the position of GM, responsible for the day to day operations of the hotel including accommodation, restaurant, student pub and nightclub.“I took care of all the media and publicity around the nightclub and turned it into one of the top five leading entertainment venues in South Africa at the time, organising pageants, competitions and a variety of shows,” said Prinsloo.Prinsloo was the first to bring KWS, a British pop/rave act from Nottingham, England, to the Vaal Triangle in the early 1990s.“I did a lot of firsts in the Vaal Triangle. I was the first to put 18 bands on one stage on the same day. PJ Powers; Dr Victor and the Rasta rebels; Walk This Way; Slam Factory and Barney Simon were all part of that historic occasion,” said Prinsloo, referring to a host of local music veterans.Prinsloo added that publications from the Vaal Triangle still follow his every move and are the first to congratulate him when he wins accolades.Elsewhere, he’s worked as senior public relations officer of the Sun City Resort in the North West province; manager of popular Belgian singer Dana Winner; head concierge of the Palace of the Lost City in the North West province; and senior guest relations manager of the One & Only Royal Mirage in Dubai, until his current appointment as head concierge and guest relations manager of The Palazzo.“I’m happy being a concierge as I prefer interaction with guests. I’ve been offered other positions but pushing figures and doing budgets is just not me,” said Prinsloo.He added that Dubai was one place he enjoyed working at as it is the epitome of luxury.“Nothing can compare to the luxury and extravagances of Dubai. Dubai is just one city within the UAE but has over 500 five star hotels, all full and happy,” said Prinsloo.“Although South Africa lacks the number of luxurious hotels that Dubai has we have ubuntu and people who are happy to serve. International travellers are always commenting about our friendly nature.”No such thing as a difficult guest“I do not believe in the notion of a difficult guest as hotels are supposed to be a home away from home and while they are our guests we are obliged to provide that homely environment,” said Prinsloo.Prinsloo has taken care of international stars like the late Michael Jackson, music mogul Quincy Jones and talk show host Gayle King, as well as presidents, royalty and major business people.“I looked after Michael’s every need for the six times he was at the Palace of the Lost City. His requests included that the Palace helicopter be always on standby for him to go get KFC in Rustenburg – he loved his KFC,” said Prinsloo.Prinsloo also cites a situation when former South African president Nelson Mandela ordered uphuthu (a meal made from mealie meal that is cooked with as little water as possible so as to keep it in grain form and not in the more common porridge form called pap. It’s usually served with milk or stew).“Madiba wanted uphuthu for breakfast and the international head chef at the Palace had never heard of it, so we had to get one of the local ladies in the kitchen to do it,” said Prinsloo.Prinsloo said that this is an example of taking care of your guest’s small or huge needs, by hook or by crook.Johannesburg concierge forumFor Prinsloo, his position as head concierge of a top-rated hotel involves more than excellence on the job.He has been working for several years on building a concierge forum in Johannesburg, with the aim of expanding it to the whole of South Africa.Prinsloo said: “These concierge organisations exist in all other major cities, with the local tourism industries benefiting from having better informed staff dealing with hotel guests on a daily basis. We realised that the same could be true of the South African tourism industry.“Most hotels have about 200 rooms or more, and concierge staff has direct contact with these guests, who are likely to make use of several services, restaurants, and activities during their visit to Johannesburg. The better informed a guest is about options available, the better the chance there is for them to return or extend their stay.”Annual conferenceUnder the auspices of the concierge forum, Prinsloo has organised two successful annual concierge and guest relations conferences in South Africa, with the third scheduled for 27 September 2012.“The aim is to have as many as possible people from all four- and five-star hotels and guest houses around Johannesburg to attend and to get to know each other and each other’s properties so we’re able to supply guests with updated information,” said Prinsloo.Prinsloo anticipates starting a local chapter of Les Clef d’Or as soon as South Africa has the required 10 Golden Keys recipients and then hosting an international Les Clef d’Or congress.Prinsloo said: “This will have far-reaching implications for the good of the concierge industry in South Africa and the hotel industry as a whole.”He would also like to have a concierge reality show in the near future.Prinsloo added that Johannesburg Tourism has loyally supported his endeavours, even sponsoring the last conference.The man behind the professionalAlthough he’s travelled to 58 countries and tasted the best in luxury and style, Prinsloo is a simple man.“I like islands, nature, the beach and quiet and serene places,” he said.His favourite city abroad is Paris but he’s not crazy about city hotels and mall restaurants.While he doesn’t drive or own a car or house, Prinsloo said: “I do have an apartment that I rent. This job is my life and I don’t think I would have coped had I been a family man.”His most valuable possession, he said, is his address book of all the people he has met and taken care of during their stays at his various places of employment.“My job doesn’t reward me in terms of monetary value but with experiences that the normal person who is not a millionaire will never experience. For instance I have been invited to a weekend at the Saxon, a top boutique hotel, this weekend,” he said.last_img read more

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Minister Bartlett Underscores the Importance of Tourism Service Excellence

first_img Meanwhile, Mr. Bartlett said recognising and rewarding service excellence is integral to developing tourism’s offerings, and lauded the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) for spearheading the Tourism Service Excellence Programme (TSEP) and hosting the awards. Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, has underscored the importance of building a culture of service excellence within the tourism sector to further position Jamaica as a globally competitive destination.“Our goal is to create a differentiation in service that establishes a competitive advantage for Jamaica, so we remain top of mind for visitors when they are planning their next vacation,” he said.The Minister contended that to secure the sector’s continued growth and long-term success, “we must ensure that all aspects of the product are right… that every tourism worker and entity provides exceptional service and delivers on what we promise when we market destination Jamaica”.Mr. Bartlett said the new tourism approach towards this thrust requires a highly skilled, efficient and competent employee base, capable of delivering the highest standard of personalised, first-class customer service.He was addressing participants, via video link, at a recent ceremony to announce the semi-finalists for the Tourism Service Excellence Awards (TSEA) at the Courtyard by Marriott Kingston Hotel.Meanwhile, Mr. Bartlett said recognising and rewarding service excellence is integral to developing tourism’s offerings, and lauded the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) for spearheading the Tourism Service Excellence Programme (TSEP) and hosting the awards.The programme selects, showcases and awards the industry’s best in service excellence; evaluates the service provided; and serves as a mechanism to encourage tourism entities to improve customer service delivery.The 21 semi-finalists will vie for the awards on March 17 at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James, where the winners for both the Individual and Organisation categories will be announced and awarded.The 10 Individual and 11 Organisation qualifiers were selected from 126 nominees, covering the regions of Ocho Rios, Negril, Kingston, the south coast and Montego Bay.The semi-finalists, who represent various categories within the industry, including accommodation, ground transportation, attractions and the craft industry, were selected by a panel of judges following a series of evaluations and interviews.“Jamaica has proven itself as a world-class destination by its ability to deliver on the brand promise through these very individuals and organisations that we recognise annually at the TSEA,” Mr. Bartlett statedHe added that, “events like the TSEA, which recognise and reward shining examples of tourism excellence, are important to the industry, as they keep us on our toes, raise the bar in terms of enhancing visitor experiences and reinforce the value of our tourism workers and the sector”. The Minister contended that to secure the sector’s continued growth and long-term success, “we must ensure that all aspects of the product are right… that every tourism worker and entity provides exceptional service and delivers on what we promise when we market destination Jamaica”. Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, has underscored the importance of building a culture of service excellence within the tourism sector to further position Jamaica as a globally competitive destination. Story Highlightslast_img read more

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One of the killers in the videotaped beating death of girl in Sagkeeng

first_img(Serena McKay, 19, of the Sagkeeng First Nation was beaten and left for dead in April 2017. A 16 and 17-year-old girl were each charged)The Canadian PressWINNIPEG – A teenager who helped beat a young Manitoba woman and shared the footage of her bloody death apologized to the victim’s family at a sentencing hearing Tuesday.Serena McKay’s body was found on the Sagkeeng First Nation last April and two teenage girls, who were 16 and 17, were arrested.The older girl, who has since turned 18 but can’t be named because she was underage when the beating occurred, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in December.“There are no words to describe how sorry I am,” the girl told McKay’s family in a Winnipeg courtroom. “I am living every day with this guilt and shame … I want to do things in Serena’s honour.”The Crown and defence are jointly recommending the girl receive the maximum youth sentence of seven years. The Crown wants the girl to spend four years behind bars and serve 1 1/2 years in the community.Defence lawyer Greg Brodsky, who said his client has shown remorse, is asking for one year in jail with the rest of the sentence to be served in the community.McKay had been at a house party in the Sagkeeng community when there was an argument about alcohol, court heard.Two videos, which later circulated on social media, showed McKay being attacked.McKay’s family members stood up and left before the videos were played in court. The woman being sentenced held her head in her hands and sobbed as the graphic footage showed McKay being punched and kicked while she begged for the beating to stop.Crown prosecutor Jennifer Comack said the woman texted the videos to a friend first, along with a message boasting that she “stomped her” out. The videos were widely shared, Comack said.McKay’s mother recalled the pain of seeing her daughter’s bloody, swollen face as it was circulated on social media.“I dream about her,” Delores Daniels told court as she clutched an eagle feather and broke into tears. “I wake up crying and sad that she is not here and wonder what she would have become in life.“This has been a nightmare to me … How can an only daughter be replaced?”In a statement read in court, McKay’s father, Harvey McKay, said he was at work in northern Manitoba when he was horrified to discover people around him were watching videos of the beating.“I will never get over what happened to my baby Serena,” his statement said.Some 24 victim impact statements were submitted to the court from family and friends. There were more from people who didn’t know McKay, including two from people outside Canada.Judge Rocky Pollack is to decide which can be included in the court record and how long the teen will be jailed. The sentencing hearing is scheduled to continue Thursday.A year after a Sagkeeng First Nation teen was fatally beaten – a video of which was posted on social media – one of her killers’ sentencing hearing has begun.Serena McKay, 19, was found dead on April 23, 2017, outside a residence in the community located 100 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.McKay, a grade 12 student who was set to graduate two months later had her life was cut short by two female schoolmates, aged 16 and 17 and the time. They attacked her outside a party, brutally beat her and left her to freeze to death.The 17-year-old pleaded guilty to second-degree murder late last year. She is now 18 and has been in custody since the killing.The girl, who cannot be named because of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was seen on one of two videos shared online, delivering a series of vicious boot-stomps to the victim’s head after the younger teen already mercilessly beat McKay.The two videos of the attack were played in court Tuesday while the shackled young woman in jail garb bent her head and sobbed, covering her eyes and ears.The Crown is asking for a sentence of four years in addition to the year she’s been in custody, followed by 1.5 years living in a supervised community setting.The maximum sentence for second-degree murder under the Youth Criminal Justice Act is seven years in custody.More than 30 people submitted victim-impact statements detailing how McKay’s death has left them devastated, or how the video recording of the killing that made rounds on social media, affected them.A judge will hand down a sentence on Thursday.The 16-year-old involved in McKay’s death pleaded guilty to manslaughter earlier this year.A date has not been set for her [email protected]last_img read more

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Red zone turnover deficiencies holding back Ohio State offense

OSU redshirt sophomore H-back Jalin Marshall (7) runs with the ball during a game against Indiana on Oct. 3 in Bloomington, Indiana. OSU won, 34-27. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead / Photo EditorOhio State maintained its top ranking in the AP Top 25 Poll for the sixth straight week, but a sluggish start out of the gates has caused the Buckeyes to lose 23 of their 61 first-place votes from the preseason poll. But after getting a chance to review the game tape of the Buckeyes’ 34-27 victory over Indiana on Saturday, OSU coach Urban Meyer saw improvements. The coach was hesitant to use the word “great” to describe where the Buckeyes could be headed “because it’s all relative,” but Meyer said he thinks they might be turning the corner.Meyer said the perimeter blocking was the best it’s been this year, while noting the team played as hard as any time over the past two seasons. “I think we’re on the border of being very good,” he said on Monday. As for why the defending national champions have yet to cross that border to being very good, Meyer pointed to two areas that used to be the team’s strengths: red zone offense and turnovers. The team has put points on the board in just 75 percent of its trips inside the 20-yard line. In 16 tries, the Buckeyes have four field goals and only six touchdowns.OSU made three trips to the red zone against Indiana but came away with a measly six points on two field goals from redshirt senior Jack Willoughby. On their third trip, the Buckeyes found the end zone on a swing pass from redshirt junior quarterback Cardale Jones to junior running back Ezekiel Elliott, but an illegal block negated the score. The next play Jones was sacked, then two plays later a botched snap on third down moved the Buckeyes further back. Willoughby trotted out for his third field goal attempt but missed it. The mistake-ridden trip was a microcosm of the struggles inside the red zone all season long.Left guard Billy Price said he thinks the issues inside the 20-yard line actually stem from the offense’s big play ability. “As we look at our offense, we are a very explosive offense,” the redshirt sophomore said. “Given a confined space, it makes things difficult. It makes it easier for the defense because they don’t have as much ground to cover.”Price said the team needs focus on individual assignments, as well as tightening up its execution, especially for the running game.“We gotta get the running game going, that’s primary. That’s who our offense is. And then the red zone comes second nature to us,” he said. Meyer said the inefficiency inside the 20-yard line boils down to a “variety of problems,” such as turnovers and penalties.Turnovers, however, have been a major factor holding the offense back, even outside the red zone. Following the victory over the Hoosiers, in which the Buckeyes coughed up the ball three times, Meyer said the “turnovers have to change.” Redshirt sophomore Jalin Marshall contributed two fumbles, while Jones threw one interception.Through five games, OSU is minus-four in turnover margin — which places them 101st in the country. In three of five games, the Buckeyes have had multiple turnovers. Tight ends coach Tim Hinton said last week that the team is working on fixing the issues. “We’ve had too many turnovers,” he said. “We’re certainly addressing that very hard.” Meyer is confident that the lack of production in the red zone and turnovers can be corrected as the season progresses. “Those are fixable,” he said. “When you start getting effort and attitude … that’s where red flags start showing up, and I don’t feel that at all. This one has the characteristics of having a great team. Last year’s obviously was a great team, 2012, great team. I didn’t say exceptional skill everywhere, but great team.”  OSU is set to continue Big Ten play on Saturday against Maryland. Kickoff is slated for noon at Ohio Stadium. read more

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Final Four bound womens soccer shuts out Georgetown

Ohio State defender Lauren Beachy’s first collegiate goal was a historic one for the Buckeyes. Beachy connected on a penalty shot in the 21st minute of play for a game-winning shot that sent the OSU women’s soccer team to its first Final Four appearance in program history after a 2-0 victory against Georgetown at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. “I knew that it was my role to step up and do what I had to do,” Beachy said. “I knew it was my time.” Tiffany Cameron tacked on an insurance goal in the 53rd minute of play when she sprinted down the left side of the field and floated a long ball over Georgetown goalkeeper Jackie DesJardin. Forwards Lauren Granberg and Paige Maxwell both assisted on the goal, which was Cameron’s seventh of the season. “Georgetown was a tough team to prepare for,” OSU coach Lori Walker said. “They didn’t get here by accident. It was amazing to kind of watch as that second goal went in, you could see kind of a change.” The No. 3-seeded Buckeyes held on to their 2-0 lead for the final 37 minutes of action by dominating the ball throughout the second half, out-shooting the No. 4-seeded Hoyas 17-8. OSU goalkeeper Katie Baumgardner and the Buckeye defense recorded their third NCAA Tournament shutout. “Our defense comes to play every game,” Beachy said. “It’s a team concept. There’s not one of us who is an all-star. We all work together and we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.” The Buckeyes will head to Cary, N.C., to play Notre Dame on Friday, with the winner advancing to the national championship game against the winner of Stanford and Boston College. Walker, who won a national championship as North Carolina’s starting goalkeeper in 1989, will focus on preparing her team to play on the biggest stage in collegiate women’s soccer. “I’m not going to lie. I mean, to go back to Cary and to be the first Tar Heel alum to make the Final Four is pretty special,” Walker said. “We’re going to do exactly what we’ve been doing. It really is just about being in the moment, and all we’ve got to do is be one goal better than the team we play on Friday night.” read more

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Football Runpass option highlights the difference between Haskins and Barrett

Ohio State redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins (7) runs the ball in the third quarter of the game against Minnesota on Oct. 13. Ohio State won. 30-14. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorOhio State might be the No. 2 team in the country, with a 7-0 record and have its best throwing quarterback in recent memory in redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins. But the team is lacking one thing every team led by head coach Urban Meyer has always had: a run game.In the Buckeyes 30-14 win over Minnesota, Ohio State failed to reach 100 rushing yards for the first time since its loss to Clemson in the College Football Playoff two seasons ago.Much of this can be attributed to Ohio State’s lack of a dual-threat quarterback, with J.T. Barrett amassing 798 rushing yards in his redshirt senior season last year, much of which was through the run-pass option, or RPO.Barrett was often the answer to short third-down plays, and the extra threat with his feet allowed more space for running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber. So much more space, in fact, that Dobbins ran for 1,403 yards and 7.2 yards per carry as a freshman.The RPO seems to have been majorly lost with Barrett’s departure, but Meyer said that is not necessarily true.“A lot of those passes are RPOs, like when you see Parris [Campbell] in the flat or K.J. [Hill] on a hitch, those are all RPOs,” Meyer said. “You’re reading someone, you trigger, you throw the ball. So I’d say there’s at least 10 to 12 called runs that the ball is being thrown.” This season, Haskins has 30 rushes for 49 yards and a touchdown on the ground, averaging 1.9 yards per carry. Against Minnesota, Haskins had a career-high nine carries and totaled just six yards, losing yardage on three sacks.However, the RPO for Haskins is still completely different than the play-calling Barrett had under Meyer. Instead of Haskins running the ball himself when an RPO is called, he is looking for an opportunity to hand the ball off, finding a hole for whichever running back is in the game, whether its Dobbins or Weber. However, instead of Dobbins and Weber putting up the same types of numbers they combined for last season, the Ohio State rushing game has struggled, ranking as the No. 51 rushing offense in the NCAA with the yards per carry average for both backs decreasing from a season ago. The defensive schemes Ohio State has seen over the first seven games of the season has indicated that opponents view the rushing offense, without a dual-threat option behind center, as one-dimensional.“I don’t want to give you a number, but there’s some pass yards that are run plays,” Meyer said. “They’re loading the boxes, we’re not going to run the quarterback.”To make up for it, Haskins threw 412 yards and three touchdowns, giving him back-to-back 400-yard passing games. The Ohio State program has had three 400-yard passing games in its history, two coming in the past two weeks.While Barrett gave the offense a strong weapon on both fronts, Haskins has been making up for lost ground by drastically out-throwing any season Barrett ever had. In the RPO, Meyer said he understands this difference, and that’s why there has been such a shift in the offensive numbers.“We went back and studied everything, and had that conversation about these are 10 run calls that we’re flipping the ball out there and making plays with it,” Meyer said. “That’s kind of what Dwayne gives you. Maybe J.T. gave you something else, where it was more of a run-run option; this is a run-pass option.”The Buckeyes will travel this Saturday to face a Purdue rush defense that has been middle of the road so far this season, allowing 146.8 yards per game and four yards per carry to opposing backs.It remains to be seen if the Ohio State offense will move toward the run aspect of the run-pass option, or if the offense can continue to survive on the historic pace that Haskins’ passing game is working on. read more

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First holiday weekend for motorized scooters in San Diego raises concern

first_imgFirst holiday weekend for motorized scooters in San Diego raises concern Posted: May 26, 2018 May 26, 2018 John Soderman 00:00 00:00 spaceplay / pause qunload | stop ffullscreenshift + ←→slower / faster ↑↓volume mmute ←→seek  . seek to previous 12… 6 seek to 10%, 20% … 60% XColor SettingsAaAaAaAaTextBackgroundOpacity SettingsTextOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundSemi-TransparentOpaqueTransparentFont SettingsSize||TypeSerif MonospaceSerifSans Serif MonospaceSans SerifCasualCursiveSmallCapsResetSave SettingsSAN DIEGO (KUSI) — With the beginning of the first holiday of the Summer season, there has been increased scrutiny towards the new, motorized scooters that have become popular in San Diego.Earlier this week, the city council rejected an emergency ban on them.With ten of thousands expected to visit San Diego beaches during Memorial Day weekend, concerns have been raised about the safety of these scooters.At Mission Beach, the motorized scooters are all over the place. Lifeguards have reported 13 injury crashes involving these scooters since March 2.The concern is that as Summer rolls into town, the injury count could increase.This concern is why city councilmember Lori Zapf pushed so hard to get an emergency scooter ban enforced along boardwalks.The city council ultimately voted against the proposed ban by Zapf.Despite the concerns, the scooters are immensely popular among beach-goers, and as long as users follow the rules of the road — wearing helmets, having a driver’s lisence, and not scootering under the influence — they could become a regular part of the San Diego beach boardwalk scene. John Soderman, Categories: Local San Diego News FacebookTwitterlast_img read more

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A certain protein could possibly be the key to understanding navigation in

first_img Explore further Citation: A certain protein could possibly be the key to understanding navigation in birds (2018, April 4) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-04-protein-possibly-key-birds.html © 2018 Phys.org Migratory birds eye-localized magnetoreception for navigation This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. More information: Atticus Pinzon-Rodriguez et al. Expression patterns of cryptochrome genes in avian retina suggest involvement of Cry4 in light-dependent magnetoreception, Journal of The Royal Society Interface (2018). DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2018.0058AbstractThe light-dependent magnetic compass of birds provides orientation information about the spatial alignment of the geomagnetic field. It is proposed to be located in the avian retina, and be mediated by a light-induced, biochemical radical-pair mechanism involving cryptochromes as putative receptor molecules. At the same time, cryptochromes are known for their role in the negative feedback loop in the circadian clock. We measured gene expression of Cry1, Cry2 and Cry4 in the retina, muscle and brain of zebra finches over the circadian day to assess whether they showed any circadian rhythmicity. We hypothesized that retinal cryptochromes involved in magnetoreception should be expressed at a constant level over the circadian day, because birds use a light-dependent magnetic compass for orientation not only during migration, but also for spatial orientation tasks in their daily life. Cryptochromes serving in circadian tasks, on the other hand, are expected to be expressed in a rhythmic (circadian) pattern. Cry1 and Cry2 displayed a daily variation in the retina as expected for circadian clock genes, while Cry4 expressed at constant levels over time. We conclude that Cry4 is the most likely candidate magnetoreceptor of the light-dependent magnetic compass in birds.center_img Journal information: Journal of the Royal Society Interface Credit: CC0 Public Domain Birds that are able to migrate great distances obviously have some form of navigation system—they stop at the same places and have very clear destinations in mind. But how do they do it? In recent years, some in the field believed it had to do with iron-rich cells in their beaks serving as mini-compasses, but this theory has had some problems, such as how the birds translate beak sensations to directional signals. In this new effort, the researchers suggest it is not the cells in the beak that are responsible, but a type of protein that exists in their eyes. The researchers came to this conclusion by studying the brains, muscles and eyes of zebra finches. More specifically, they studied Cry1, Cry2 and Cry4, proteins associated with the circadian clock. The researchers found that Cry1 and Cry2 levels tend to rise and fall throughout each day, but Cry4 remains constant, suggesting it has another purpose.The researchers chose to study these particular proteins because they are made of a type of molecule that sometimes has an odd number of electrons, leaving some unpaired, and thus sensitive to a magnetic field. They also found that Cry4 tends to exist in clusters in a part of the bird retina that tends to get a lot of light and which is sensitive to blue light—this is important because prior studies have shown that birds are only able to navigate when blue light is available. Taken together, the evidence suggests that the protein plays a strong role in navigation.The study does not prove that the Cry4 protein is the key to bird navigation, but it makes a strong case for it. Earlier this month, a Danish and German team of researchers studying robins found that Cry4 levels also remain constant each day, but rise during the migratory season. A team of researchers at Lund University has found evidence that suggests a certain protein plays a prominent role in bird navigation. They have published their findings in Journal of the Royal Society Interface.last_img read more

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