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Nie Y.,CAS Institute of Zoology | Speakman J.R.,CAS Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology | Speakman J.R.,University of Aberdeen | Wu Q.,CAS Institute of Zoology | And 9 more authors.
Science | Year: 2015

The carnivoran giant panda has a specialized bamboo diet, to which its alimentary tract is poorly adapted. Measurements of daily energy expenditure across five captive and three wild pandas averaged 5.2 megajoules (MJ)/day, only 37.7% of the predicted value (13.8 MJ/day). For the wild pandas, the mean was 6.2 MJ/day, or 45% of the mammalian expectation. Pandas achieve this exceptionally low expenditure in part by reduced sizes of several vital organs and low physical activity. In addition, circulating levels of thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) averaged 46.9 and 64%, respectively, of the levels expected for a eutherian mammal of comparable size. A giant panda-unique mutation in the DUOX2 gene, critical for thyroid hormone synthesis, might explain these low thyroid hormone levels. A combination of morphological, behavioral, physiological, and genetic adaptations, leading to low energy expenditure, likely enables giant pandas to survive on a bamboo diet. Copyright 2015 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science; all rights reserved. Source

Huang X.,Beijing Normal University | Huang X.,Lund University | Dong L.,Beijing Normal University | Zhang C.,Beijing Key Laboratory of Captive Wildlife Technologies | Zhang Y.,Beijing Normal University
Parasitology Research | Year: 2015

Avian blood parasites have been preliminarily studied in East Asia, but no data are available from long-term monitoring. The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence, genetic diversity, and temporal dynamics of Plasmodium, Haemoproteus, and Leucocytozoon in two passerine communities (one forest and one urban) in north China from 2008 to 2013, as well as the association between infected lineages and host specificities. Out of 633 birds from 40 species, 157 individuals (24.8 %) were infected; overall prevalence was 26.7 % and 16.8 % in two sites, respectively. The dominant avian blood parasite genus in the forest park changed yearly between Plasmodium and Haemoproteus, while the Leucocytozoon maintained a low infection level. Forty-four haplotypes were identified by sequencing a 432-bp fragment of the cytochrome b (cyt b) gene; more than 70 % were novel (six Plasmodium lineages, 16 Haemoproteus lineages, and nine Leucocytozoon lineages). Based on our data gathered over consecutive years, we found that the highly observed lineages of Haemoproteus showed higher host diversities than those of Plasmodium, and the most infected lineage EMEL01 (100 % identity with SGS1) take on the highest host diversity but low temporal diversity of the two genera, implying that this lineage infected a great diversity of species in certain years, but maintained a lower infection level or even disappeared in other years. The results suggest that genetic diversity of avian blood parasites in East Asia is high and provides scope for further research. In addition, compared with overall analysis, yearly prevalence monitoring is important in uncovering the temporal dynamic and host specificity variations over time. © 2015, The Author(s). Source

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