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Picture of the Day

Separated since the dinosaurs, bamboo-eating lemurs, pandas share common gut microbes

A new study finds that bamboo lemurs, giant pandas and red pandas share 48 gut microbes in common -- despite the fact that they are separated by millions of years of evolution. To determine if there were microbes in common that may be essential to the success of these bamboo-eating species, researchers sampled feces from bamboo lemurs at Duke Lemur Center; giant pandas at the National Zoo; and red pandas at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. The researchers ran 100,000 genetic sequences per sample in an attempt to capture the full diversity of the gut microbiome for each species. Of the 48 microbes found in common, some are also found in other animals fond of fiber-rich diets. For example, several are also found in cows and one is found in termites. This suggests that these microbes play a role in breaking down fiber to extract nutrients.

Visit Website | Image credit: Skip Brown/Smithsonian's National Zoo (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)