Giant Pandas should be carnivores according to their genes25/02/2010 14:45:11 Giant panda genome reveals new insights into the bear's bamboo diet
February 2010. A Chinese-led team including international researchers with a scientist from Cardiff University, has shed new light on some of the giant panda's unusual biological traits, including its famously restricted diet.
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.
Pandas lack the genes for bamboo digestion
Pandas should be carnivores
"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."
No signs of in breeding
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.
Less than 3000 pandas alive
"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 novoassembly of the giant panda genome', has been published by Natureand a full copy of the paper is available online.