Research Highlights: Why Giant Pandas Remain Chubby Despite Low-Fat Diet?


panda bear eating bamboo leaves in zoo
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Why Giant Pandas Remain Chubby Despite Low-Fat Diet?

  • Changes in diet can lead to changes in the characteristics of gut microbiome.
  • However, the effects of gut microbiome characteristic changes remain unclear.
  • Researchers performed fecal microbiota transplantation or FMT of diet-specific feces from a giant panda into a germ-free mouse.
  • Researchers discovered that the bacterium Clostridium butyricum was greater in number when the giant panda ate more bamboo shoots than bamboo leaves.
  • C. butyricum is an anaerobic endospore-forming Gram-positive bacteria that produces butyrate.[1]
  • Eating more bamboo shoots was also correlated with significant increase in body mass.
  • After the stool transplant, the gut microbiome of the mouse resembled that of the giant panda.
  • Mice transplanted with stool microbiota from giant panda who ate more bamboo shoots grew faster and became more chubby.
  • Researchers discovered that butyrate extended the activity of a hepatic circadian gene which then increases the production of phospholipids.
  • Phospholipid is a fatty phosphorus-containing molecule that play important structural/metabolic roles in cells.[2]
  • The research study highlights the effects of seasonal shifts in the gut microbiome on host’s growth performance and allows an in-depth understanding of host-bacteria interactions in wild animals.


Guangping Huang, Le Wang, Jian Li, Rong Hou, Meng Wang, Zhilin Wang, Qingyue Qu, Wenliang Zhou, Yonggang Nie, Yibo Hu, Yingjie Ma, Li Yan, Hong Wei, Fuwen Wei. Seasonal shift of the gut microbiome synchronizes host peripheral circadian rhythm for physiological adaptation to a low-fat diet in the giant panda. Cell Reports, 2022; 38 (3): 110203 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2021.110203




Research Highlights: Possibility of COVID-19 Virus Transmitted from Humans to Free-Ranging Wildlife such as Bats

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Original Article:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the considerable public health, economic, and societal effects of virus spreading from a wildlife reservoir.
  • The transmission of COVID-19 virus among humans also presents a new set of problems when considering viral spreading from people to naive wildlife and other animal populations.
  • Establishing new wildlife reservoirs for COVID-19 virus will further complicate public health control measures and can lead to wildlife health and conservation impacts.
  • It has been reported that the likely origin of COVID-19 virus and other related betacoronaviruses are bats.
  • The study proposed that the key group of concern for viral spreading from humans to wildlife are the free-ranging bats.
  • The study review the diversity and natural host range of betacoronavirus in bats.
  • The study also examine the risk of humans accidentally infecting free-ranging bats with COVID-19 virus.
  • Review of the worldwide distribution and host range of betacoronavirus evolutionary lineages proposes that more than 40 species of temperate-zone North American bats can be immunologically naive and vulnerable to COVID-19 infection.
  • The study highlights an urgent need to proactively connect the well-being of human and wildlife health during the current pandemic.
  • The study also highlights implementation of new tools to continue wildlife research.
  • Wildlife research should be performed while keeping away from possible severe health and conservation impacts of COVID-19 virus spreading back into free-ranging bat populations.
Image of COVID-19 virus taken from electron microscope. Source:


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