Monday, 23 July 2018

What does the koala genome tell us about the taste of eucalyptus?

New data provides insight into the marsupial's unique feeding habits

Date:  July 10, 2018
Source:  Kyoto University

Sequencing of the koala genome has revealed some interesting qualities about these marsupials on their sense of taste. They have more bitter taste receptor genes than any other Australian marsupial, and most mammals. This possibly enables the animals to detect toxic metabolites contained in eucalyptus. Koalas even have functional receptors for both sweetness and umami.
Koalas have long captured people's hearts and minds thanks to their cuddly features and seemingly relaxed demeanor.

Now, in a collaborative study by the Koala Genome Consortium -- involving 54 scientists at 29 institutions, including Kyoto University -- researchers have successfully sequenced the entire koala genome, uncovering much that has been unknown about these mesmerizing marsupials.
Past studies have revealed many unique features of the koala's morphology, physiology and ecology. However, little was known about the animal's genome. With this study published in Nature Genetics, the koala is now the fourth marsupial species to have its genome sequenced, providing further understanding of the genetic background of its biology, and establishing a high-quality genomic reference for marsupial mammals.

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