The team has successfully sequenced the panda genome for the first time and now, the genetic insights gleaned from the work may aid conservation efforts for the endangered species.
Giant pandas are known for their bamboo diet but the researchers discovered that the animal actually lacks the genes necessary for compete digestion of this staple food source.
Professor Mike Bruford, Cardiff School of Biosciences, worked on the study as part of an ongoing collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Zoology, funded by the Royal Society.
He said: "The panda is a true bear and is a carnivore, so it possesses the genes necessary for being a meat-eater and yet its diet is almost exclusively herbivorous. This may suggest that it relies on microbes in its gut to digest bamboo rather than on anything in its genetic make-up.
"Taste is also important when it comes to the development of dietary habits and the sequencers discovered mutations in the panda's T1R1 gene which may affect its ability to taste meat, one possible explanation for why a potential carnivore would rely on a strict bamboo diet."
The study found no signs of low variation that is usually linked to inbreeding and results support the potential for successful survival despite the small population size of the species.
In spite of the panda's low reproduction rates, the study also identified nearly all the reproduction genes critical for mammalian gonad function and development.
Discussing the study, Professor Bruford said "The panda is at high risk of extinction, with current estimates putting total population figures at less than 3,000. The study gives us a fuller understanding of the genetic basis of the panda's biology, and will contribute to disease control and conservation efforts."
"Sequencing mammalian genomes also undoubtedly helps our ability to annotate the human genome. A major limitation to this has always been the prohibitive costs involved in the process but the study used a short-read technology that can generate genome draft sequences in a very cost-effective manner.
"This will have far-reaching implications for promoting future genome sequencing of non-model organisms."
The study, 'the sequence and de novo assembly of the giant panda genome', has been published by Nature and a full copy of the paper is available online at: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v463/n7279/full/nature08696.html
For further information or to arrange an interview:Professor Mike Bruford
Professor Mike Bruford | EurekAlert!
Cloud Formation: How Feldspar Acts as Ice Nucleus
09.12.2016 | Karlsruher Institut für Technologie
Closing the carbon loop
08.12.2016 | University of Pittsburgh
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
08.12.2016 | Life Sciences
08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences