Navigation Links
Bacteria may allow animals to send quick, voluminous messages
Date:11/11/2013

EAST LANSING, Mich. Twitter clips human thoughts to a mere 140 characters. Animals' scent posts may be equally as short, relatively speaking, yet they convey an encyclopedia of information about the animals that left them.

In the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a Michigan State University researcher shows that the detailed scent posts of hyenas are, in part, products of symbiotic bacteria, microbes that have a mutually beneficial relationship with their hosts.

"When hyenas leave paste deposits on grass, the sour-smelling signals relay reams of information for other animals to read," said Kevin Theis, the paper's lead author and MSU postdoctoral researcher. "Hyenas can leave a quick, detailed message and go. It's like a bulletin board of who's around and how they're doing."

Interestingly, it's the bacteria in pastes more diverse than scientists had imagined that appear to be doing the yeoman's job of sending these messages.

"Scent posts are bulletin boards, pastes are business cards, and bacteria are the ink, shaped into letters and words that provide information about the paster to the boards' visitors," Theis said. "Without the ink, there is potentially just a board of blank uninformative cards."

Theis, who co-authored the study with Kay Holekamp, MSU zoologist, studied multiple groups of male and female spotted hyenas and striped hyenas in Kenya.

By using molecular surveys, they were afforded unprecedented views of the diversity of microbes inhabiting mammals' scent glands. The researchers were able to show that the diversity of odor-producing bacteria in spotted hyena scent glands is much greater than historical studies of mammals had suggested.

The diversity, however, still consistently varies between hyena species, and with sex and reproductive state among spotted hyenas, Theis added. Importantly, the variation in scent gland bacterial communities was strongly correlated with variation in the glands' odor profiles, suggesting that bacteria were responsible for the variation in scent.

"There have been around 15 prior studies pursuing this line of research," Theis said. "But they typically relied on culture-based methods, an approach in which many of the similarities and differences in bacterial communities can be lost. If we used those traditional methods, many of the key findings that are driving our research wouldn't be detected at all."

For the current paper, Theis' team was the first to combine microbial surveys and complementary odor data from wild animals. The studies' findings leave Theis anxious to return to the field.

"Now I just need to get back into the field to test new predictions generated by this study," Theis said. "The next phase of this research will be to manipulate the bacterial communities in hyenas' scent glands to test if their odors change in predictable ways."

Theis is now also conducting similar research in birds, in collaboration with MSU researcher Danielle Whittaker. Being able to cast a wide research net and connect quickly with collaborators are some of the benefits of working for MSU's BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action, Theis added.


'/>"/>

Contact: Layne Cameron
Layne.cameron@cabs.msu.edu
517-353-8819
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Leading evolutionary scientist to discuss how genome of bacteria has evolved
2. Study by UC Santa Barbara researchers suggests that bacteria communicate by touch
3. Team discovers how bacteria resist a Trojan horse antibiotic
4. From scourge to saint: E. coli bacteria becomes a factory - to make cheaper, faster pharmaceuticals
5. Bacterial shock to recapture essential phosphate
6. Disarming disease-causing bacteria
7. Study shows unified process of evolution in bacteria and sexual eukaryotes
8. Invisible helpers: How probiotic bacteria protect against inflammatory bowel diseases
9. Researchers develop rapid test strips for bacterial contamination in swimming water
10. Bacteria discovery could lead to antibiotics alternatives
11. Agricultural bacteria: Blowing in the wind
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Bacteria may allow animals to send quick, voluminous messages
(Date:3/20/2017)... , March 20, 2017 PMD Healthcare announces ... spirometer and Wellness Management System (WMS), a remote, real-time ... in 2010, PMD Healthcare is a Medical Device, Digital ... mission dedicated to creating innovative solutions that empower people ... that intent focus, PMD developed the first ever personal ...
(Date:3/13/2017)... of security: Biometric Face Matching software  Continue Reading ... ... match face pictures against each other or against large databases. The recognition of ... ... for biometric Face Matching on the market. The speed is at 100 million ...
(Date:3/9/2017)... FRANCISCO and MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. ... , "Eating Well Made Simple," and 23andMe , ... help guide better food choices.  Zipongo can now provide ... their food preferences, health goals and biometrics, but also ... certain food choices. Zipongo,s personalized food decision ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/27/2017)... ... March 27, 2017 , ... IsoPlexis Corporation (IsoPlexis), a ... disease and more through a single-cell precision engineering platform, today announced it has ... in the laboratory of Dr. James Heath at the California Institute of ...
(Date:3/27/2017)... ... March 27, 2017 , ... Biopsies from non-small cell ... with limited tumor content in a large background of normal or wild type ... need for reliable detection of low abundance somatic mutations, particularly in small specimens ...
(Date:3/27/2017)... Md. , March 27, 2017  The ... billion for 2016, according to a new report ... medical lab testing is performed to evaluate disease ... individual therapy, among other reasons.  The healthcare market ... Market , provides an overview of the ...
(Date:3/27/2017)... The new research portal will give visitors quick ... Valero Energy , offering extensive market research on their ... ... The latest trend gaining momentum in ... even though touted as a green alternative to fossil fuels, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: