Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Panda Restoration Efforts Look at Digestive Systems


Digestive processes impact panda survival

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.

File photo by MSU Ag Communications/Kat Lawrence

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.

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.

Dr. Ashli Brown Johnson | newswise

Further reports about: Agricultural Chinese Digestive Johnson Memphis Restoration Zoo bacteria giant pandas microbes species

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Tissue-engineered colon from human cells develop different types of neurons
02.10.2015 | Children's Hospital Los Angeles

nachricht Big eyes! – MDC Researchers Identify Cause of Inherited Form of Extreme Nearsightedness
02.10.2015 | Max-Delbrück-Centrum für Molekulare Medizin in der Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New Sinumerik features improve productivity and precision

EMO 2015, Hall 3, Booth E06/F03

  • Drive optimization called automatically by the part program boosts productivity
  • Automatically switching the dynamic values to rapid traverse and interpolation...

Im Focus: LZH presents additive manufacturing at the LABVOLUTION

The Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will present how laser-based technologies can contribute to the laboratory of the future at the LABVOLUTION in Hannover in Hall 9, Stand E67/09, from October 6th to 8th, 2015. As a part of the model lab smartLAB, the LZH is showing how additive manufacturing, better known as 3-D printing, can make experimental setups more flexible.

Twelve partners from science and industry are presenting an intelligent and innovative model lab at the special display smartLAB. A part of this intelligent...

Im Focus: New polymer creates safer fuels

Before embarking on a transcontinental journey, jet airplanes fill up with tens of thousands of gallons of fuel. In the event of a crash, such large quantities of fuel increase the severity of an explosion upon impact.

Researchers at Caltech and JPL have discovered a polymeric fuel additive that can reduce the intensity of postimpact explosions that occur during accidents and...

Im Focus: 3-D printing techniques help surgeons carve new ears

When surgical residents need to practice a complicated procedure to fashion a new ear for children without one, they typically get a bar of soap, carrot or an apple.

To treat children with a missing or under-developed ear, experienced surgeons harvest pieces of rib cartilage from the child and carve them into the framework...

Im Focus: Walk the line

NASA studies physical performance after spaceflight

Walking an obstacle course on Earth is relatively easy. Walking an obstacle course on Earth after being in space for six months is not quite as simple. The...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

EHFG 2015: Securing healthcare and sustainably strengthening healthcare systems

01.10.2015 | Event News

Conference in Brussels: Tracking and Tracing the Smallest Marine Life Forms

30.09.2015 | Event News

World Alzheimer`s Day – Professor Willnow: Clearer Insights into the Development of the Disease

17.09.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Infrared thermography can detect joint inflammation and help improving work ergonomics

02.10.2015 | Medical Engineering

Semiconductor nanoparticles show high luminescence in a polymer matrix

02.10.2015 | Materials Sciences

New Sinumerik features improve productivity and precision

02.10.2015 | Trade Fair News

More VideoLinks >>>