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Poo transplants are helping expand koala microbiomes, allowing the marsupials to eat a wider range of eucalypts and possibly survive habitat loss.
A study featuring University of Queensland researchers has analysed and altered microbes in koalas' guts, finding that a faecal transplant may influence what species of eucalypt koalas can feed on.
UQ - School - Chemistry - Molecular - Biosciences
UQ School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences Dr. Michaela Blyton was inspired to conduct the research after a devastating drop in the koala population on Cape Otway in Victoria.
"In 2013 the koala population reached very high densities, leading them to defoliate their preferred food tree species, manna gum," Dr. Blyton said.
Cent - Mortality - Starvation
"This led to 70 per cent mortality due to starvation, which was very distressing.
"What was interesting was that even though the koalas were starving, they generally didn't start feeding on a less preferred tree species, messmate, despite the fact that some koalas feed exclusively on messmate.
Dr - Ben - Moore - Western - Sydney
"This led me and colleague Dr. Ben Moore at Western Sydney University to wonder if the microbes present in koalas' guts—their microbiomes—were limiting which species they could eat, and if we could allow them to expand their diet with faecal inoculations."
The team caught wild koalas that only ate manna...
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