HomeAsiaPandas stay chubby with the help of changing gut bacteria, study suggests

Pandas stay chubby with the help of changing gut bacteria, study suggests

But the creatures seem to have advanced to get the most out of what they do eat, in accordance with a brand new study.

Their gut 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 stated could compensate for an absence of vitamins later in the 12 months, when bamboo crops have solely fibrous leaves to chomp on.

“We’ve known these pandas have a different set of gut microbiota during the shoot-eating season for a long time, and it’s very obvious that they are chubbier during this time of the year,” stated lead study creator Guangping Huang, a researcher for the Institute of Zoology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in a information launch.

The study was revealed on Tuesday in the journal Cell Reports.

To examine how the gut micro organism may have an effect on a panda’s metabolism, the group 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 referred to as Clostridium butyricum was extra plentiful in the pandas’ guts throughout the season once they get pleasure from the contemporary bamboo shoots.

To perceive 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 weight loss plan that simulated what pandas eat.

While mice are very totally different from pandas, it wasn’t attainable to run such exams on endangered and weak animals, stated Wei Fuwen, a coauthor of the study and a professor at the Key Lab of Animal Ecology and Conservation Biology in the Institute of Zoology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Mice had been a very good substitute.

“Mice have proven to be an effective model for studying the function of the gut microbiome in humans,” Wei stated 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 gut bacteria was the only variable in this research,” Wei defined.

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

“I would have asked for some kind of validation experiment or a re-sampling at another year or time point,” stated Sommer, who has performed comparable analysis on hibernating brown bears, through e mail.

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

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