Poo, and koala sustainability

Poo, and koala sustainability

Ever seen your dog eat their sibling’s faeces? Gross right? Well it appears that faecal matter might play a role in nature conservation. Researchers at Queen’s University studied the gastrointestinal microbiomes of koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus), where they observed that some wild koalas would only eat one type of eucalyptus plant, specifically the manna gum type (Eucalyptus viminalis) and avoided the variant termed messmate (Eucalyptus obliqua) sometimes to the point of starvation. The researchers wondered if this fussiness was simply just, well, fussiness, or if it was something of more importance.

Wild koalas were brought into captivity where their GI flora compositions were assessed and were then given faecal inoculations to see whether or not this could alter the gut environment enough to allow the ingestion of messmate in manna gum eating individuals, and vise versa.

They found that the GI microbiomes of fussy, mana eating individuals indeed differed from others eating messmate. They also found that after introduction, inoculations altered microbiomes in a number of individuals. They concluded that, if altering a GI microbiome in itself is enough to change an individual’s dietary tolerance, then previously manna gum only eating individuals would potentially have a lot more forest to call ‘home’, increasing their spread and thus sustainability.

Read more on this at

https://animalmicrobiome.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s42523-019-0008-0

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