Panda poop study provides insights into microbiome, reproductive troubles
A stomachache can put a real damper on your love life — especially if you’re a giant panda.
One minute it’s breeding season and you’re happily dining on fresh bamboo leaves, the next you’re left clutching your stomach while your gastrointestinal lining passes through your system. It exits your body as a thick, gooey, gelatinous mass.
[caption id="attachment_19928" align="alignright" width="350"] Le Le, a male giant panda at the Memphis Zoo, feeds on a bamboo stalk. Researchers analyzed the percentage of feeding time Le Le and his female zoo mate, Ya Ya, spent feeding on bamboo leaves relative to stalks. Photo: Candace Williams[/caption]
This is exactly what seems to happen to captive giant pandas, and the researchers behind a new study published in Frontiers in Microbiology are beginning to suspect it may play a role in their struggles to reproduce.
“We think they are sloughing off the internal mucous membrane of their gastrointestinal tract and because of this, they get really sick, which coincides with gestation,” says Garret Suen, a University of Wisconsin–Madison professor of bacteriology and co-author of the panda poop and feeding behavior study. “The pandas ...
Wednesday, May 18th, 2016