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Microb Ecol. 2007 Jul;54(1):194-202. Epub 2007 Mar 30.

The microbial community in the feces of the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) as determined by PCR-TGGE profiling and clone library analysis.

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  • 1Laboratory of Molecular Microbial Ecology and Ecogenomics, College of Life Science and Biotechnology, Shanghai JiaoTong University, Shanghai, 200240, China.


Despite having a typical carnivorous digestive tract, the giant panda has a diet consisting exclusively of bamboo, a low-efficiency food source. Given this paradox, we sought to investigate if the giant panda digestive tract is inhabited by organisms indicative of high cellulose diet or their gastrointestinal tract anatomy. The diversity and dynamics of the predominant bacteria in the fecal flora of two adult (male and female) and one young (male) giant panda reared in two different zoos over a 2-year period was studied using 16S rDNA-based approaches. The temperature gradient gel electrophoresis (TGGE) profiles of the 16S rDNA V3 region of the three individuals were highly similar. The structure of their fecal flora remained relatively stable over the 2-year period. Both the most predominant band in TGGE patterns shared by the three pandas and the biggest operational taxonomic unit (OTU) in the clone library were phylogenetically related to Escherichia coli. Gram-negative, facultative bacteria constituted almost 60% of the whole community in the clone library. All the OTUs were related to previously described phylotypes known to reside in the intestine or rumen. The results of our study indicate that the predominant bacterial populations in the intestine of the three pandas were markedly different from that of herbivores. The unbalanced intestinal community structure may play a role in the inefficient digestion of bamboo by the giant pandas.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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