Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why common tree is toxic to snowshoe hares

Date:
February 6, 2012
Source:
Boise State University
Summary:
Biologists have uncovered why the chemical defenses in birch, a common type of tree found in North America, are toxic to snowshoe hares.

Snowshoe hare.
Credit: John Bryant

Boise State University biologists have uncovered why the chemical defenses in birch, a common type of tree found in North America, are toxic to snowshoe hares.

The snowshoe hare, also commonly called the snowshoe rabbit, is found throughout North America and plays an integral part in the food chain. Understanding the mechanism by which chemical defenses in trees and plants deter snowshoe hares and other herbivores can help explain diet selection and habitat use.

The researchers found that birch inhibits a certain enzyme - succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) - and therefore interferes with cellular energy production. Although it is well documented that the chemicals in birch are harmful to snowshoe hares and other herbivores, the mechanism for toxicity was not known until now.

The study appears online in the Journal of Chemical Ecology and is the first to specifically show how birch's toxicity affects snowshoe hares.

"If we know diet selection and habitat use, it could lead to better management and conservation of both wildlife and the plants they eat," said study coauthor Jennifer Forbey, assistant professor of biological sciences. "This work represents a novel discovery and also helps explain the evolution and distribution of chemicals in trees and plants that was made possible by integrating expertise from ecology, pharmacology and chemistry. These chemicals can be toxic to both wildlife and domestic animals and can therefore influence the health of these animals."

To conduct the study, researchers measured the inhibition of SDH isolated from snowshoe hares using in vitro enzyme kinetics studies. They then used computer generated structures of the enzyme and toxin to see if they have the right "shape" to bind together. They confirmed binding of the birch toxin to SDH, which interferes with cellular energy production, showing how birch affects the snowshoe hare.

Also collaborating on the project are Dong Xu, assistant professor of chemistry; Xinzhu Pu, research assistant professor of biology; Knut Kielland, an associate professor at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks; and John Bryant, professor emeritus at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Boise State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jennifer Sorensen Forbey, Xinzhu Pu, Dong Xu, Knut Kielland, John Bryant. Inhibition of Snowshoe Hare Succinate Dehydrogenase Activity as a Mechanism of Deterrence for Papyriferic Acid in Birch. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 2011; 37 (12): 1285 DOI: 10.1007/s10886-011-0039-9

Cite This Page:

Boise State University. "Why common tree is toxic to snowshoe hares." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 February 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120206174256.htm>.
Boise State University. (2012, February 6). Why common tree is toxic to snowshoe hares. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120206174256.htm
Boise State University. "Why common tree is toxic to snowshoe hares." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120206174256.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) — Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) — With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) — Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) — Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:  

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile iPhone Android Web
      Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins