What we’re reading: The creosote-eating gut microbes of wood rats, the molecular taxonomy of bats’ diets, and drift in experimental evolution

Hammock Lounging

In the journals

Kohl, K. D., Weiss, R. B., Cox, J., Dale, C., Denise Dearing, M. (2014), Gut microbes of mammalian herbivores facilitate intake of plant toxins. Ecology Letters. doi: 10.1111/ele.12329.

Creosote toxins altered the population structure of the gut microbiome to facilitate an increase in abundance of genes that metabolise toxic compounds. In addition, woodrats were unable to consume creosote toxins after the microbiota was disrupted with antibiotics.

Burgar, J. M., Murray, D. C., Craig, M. D., Haile, J., Houston, J., Stokes, V. and Bunce, M. (2014), Who’s for dinner? High-throughput sequencing reveals bat dietary differentiation in a biodiversity hotspot where prey taxonomy is largely undescribed. Molecular Ecology. 23: 3605–3617. doi: 10.1111/mec.12531.

We used high-throughput sequencing (HTS) and bioinformatic analyses to phylogenetically group DNA sequences into molecular operational taxonomic units (MOTUs) to examine predator–prey dynamics of three sympatric insectivorous bat species in the biodiversity hotspot of south-western Australia. We could only assign between 4% and 20% of MOTUs to known genera or species, depending on the method used, underscoring the importance of examining dietary diversity irrespective of taxonomic knowledge in areas lacking a comprehensive genetic reference database.

In the news

“Harpak and Sella start from a premise that has been less widely-appreciated in the serial-transfer context: namely, that the other forces of evolution, including drift and demography, are also active in serial-transfer contexts.”

I love Science because it lets me be a child, to play in the dirt and laugh. I love Science because it lets me be a teenager, to rebel and defy the university and demand to borrow its car keys on the same day. I love Science because it lets me be an adult, responsible for machines that cost more than my house.”

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About Jeremy Yoder

Jeremy Yoder is an Assistant Professor of Biology at California State University, Northridge. He also blogs at Denim and Tweed, and tweets under the handle @jbyoder.
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