Pandas keep chubby with the assistance of fixing intestine micro organism

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Pandas are famously choosy eaters. They solely devour bamboo — a poor high quality eating regimen low in fats.

However the creatures seem to have advanced to get essentially the most out of what they do eat, based on a brand new examine.

Their intestine micro organism modifications in late spring and early summer season when bamboo is at its most nutritious — whereas it is sprouting protein-rich inexperienced shoots. The micro organism makes the bear achieve extra weight and retailer extra fats, which researchers mentioned might compensate for an absence of vitamins later within the yr, when bamboo crops have solely fibrous leaves to chomp on.

“We have recognized these pandas have a unique set of intestine microbiota in the course of the shoot-eating season for a very long time, and it’s extremely apparent that they’re chubbier throughout this time of the yr,” mentioned lead examine creator Guangping Huang, a researcher for the Institute of Zoology on the Chinese language Academy of Sciences in a information launch.

The examine was revealed on Jan. 18 within the journal Cell Studies.

To analyze how the intestine micro organism might have an effect on a panda’s metabolism, the crew first collected the feces of eight wild big pandas in China’s Qingling mountains throughout each leaf-eating season and shoot-eating season after which examined how the poop samples differed.

They discovered {that a} bacterium known as Clostridium butyricum was extra ample within the pandas’ guts in the course of the season after they benefit from the contemporary bamboo shoots.

To grasp whether or not this micro organism helps the bears achieve and retailer weight, the researchers carried out a fecal transplant, placing the panda poop they collected into lab mice. Then they fed the mice for 3 weeks with a bamboo-based eating regimen that simulated what pandas eat.

Whereas mice are very totally different from pandas, it wasn’t potential to run such assessments on endangered and weak animals, mentioned Wei Fuwen, a coauthor of the examine and a professor on the Key Lab of Animal Ecology and Conservation Biology within the Institute of Zoology on the Chinese language Academy of Sciences. Mice have been a very good substitute.

“Mice have confirmed to be an efficient mannequin for learning the operate of the intestine microbiome in people,” Wei mentioned through e-mail.

Researchers discovered that mice transplanted with panda feces collected throughout shoot-eating season gained considerably extra weight, regardless of consuming identical quantity of meals.

“The intestine micro organism was the one variable on this analysis,” Wei defined.

Felix Sommer, group chief of practical host-microbiome analysis at Christian-Albrechts-College in Kiel, Germany, famous that the variety of pandas concerned within the examine was small and the experiment had solely been carried out as soon as. Sommer, who was not concerned within the analysis, additionally confused the researchers had discovered a correlation, not a causal relationship between the micro organism and weight achieve.

“I might have requested for some type of validation experiment or a re-sampling at one other yr or time level,” mentioned Sommer, who has performed related analysis on hibernating brown bears, through e-mail.

Wei mentioned that additional work is required to validate the causal relationship immediately in pandas. He added that their work might assist enhance the well being of captive big pandas.

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