Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Panda restoration efforts look at digestive systems

Date:
May 19, 2014
Source:
Mississippi State University, Office of Agricultural Communications
Summary:
Scientists have discovered that giant and red pandas have different digestive microbes, a finding with important implications for conservation efforts and captive animal rearing. The giant panda is an endangered species, while the red panda is considered a vulnerable species.

Gastrointestinal diseases are major causes of death among wild and captive pandas. Mississippi State University researchers are working with the Memphis Zoo to learn about the digestive processes of pandas, such as this giant panda housed at the zoo.
Credit: File photo by MSU Ag Communications/Kat Lawrence

Mississippi State University researchers were part of the team that learned that giant and red pandas have different digestive microbes, a finding with important implications for conservation efforts and captive animal rearing.

Related Articles


Gastrointestinal diseases are the major cause of mortality in wild and captive pandas, but little is known about their digestive process.

The giant panda is an endangered species, while the red panda is considered a vulnerable species, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Both eat mostly fibrous bamboo.

Candace Williams, an MSU doctoral student in biochemistry, conducted the research in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Memphis Zoo and the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Williams presented her findings at the American Society for Microbiology in Boston in May.

Her study was funded through the university's Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station and the Memphis Zoological Society.

"Although they are different species, the giant panda and red panda share several characteristics," Williams said.

Under the direction of biochemist Ashli Brown Johnson, MSU scientists set out to determine if there were similarities in the microbes that digest this plant-based diet.

To investigate the microbes, Williams collected fecal samples from two giant pandas and one red panda at the Memphis Zoo. The team also obtained samples from a red panda at the National Zoo. Williams used advanced genetic sequencing techniques to determine what gastrointestinal bacteria were present.

"The procedure revealed all microbes in the fecal matter, including some that were not known," Johnson said. "Study of these microbes may have unrealized potential for agriculture, biomass digestion for bioenergy crops or other discovery research applications."

Fecal samples from both species were dominated by plant material, which impeded identification of the microbes. A student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison developed a method to remove this plant material, allowing the digestive microbes to be clearly identified.

"Our results revealed significant differences between the microbes found in the two panda species," Johnson said. "While they have some similar microbes in their digestive tracts, each panda species has a different dominant microbe present."

Understanding the gastrointestinal bacteria in pandas will help guide reforestation efforts throughout China's mountainous region. The Chinese government has established 50 panda reserves within the animals' home range. Additionally, China has banned logging to preserve the habitat of the declining species.

"With gastrointestinal disease causing the greatest natural mortality of red and giant pandas, a greater understanding of the digestive microbes will assist in maintaining captive panda populations housed at zoos," Williams said.

Mississippi State scientists have worked with the Chinese Academy of Science's Institute of Zoology to monitor and identify the wild panda population. Future research will examine the nutritional composition of bamboo to determine whether the pandas are consuming different varieties of the fibrous plant.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Mississippi State University, Office of Agricultural Communications. The original article was written by Karen Brasher. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Mississippi State University, Office of Agricultural Communications. "Panda restoration efforts look at digestive systems." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140519122523.htm>.
Mississippi State University, Office of Agricultural Communications. (2014, May 19). Panda restoration efforts look at digestive systems. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140519122523.htm
Mississippi State University, Office of Agricultural Communications. "Panda restoration efforts look at digestive systems." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140519122523.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) Take a stab at this -- stunt video shows a lamb chop's journey from an east London restaurant over 30 kilometers into space. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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