Deadly to germs

DNA study finds more di­ver­sity of bac­te­ria on vul­ture's face than in its gut, in­di­cat­ing di­ges­tion killed them

Down to Earth - - SCIENCE -

HOW DO vul­tures sur­vive de­spite eat­ing food that will most likely kill other species? The an­swer lies in their gut. Vul­ture diet in­cludes car­cases filled with toxic bac­te­ria and fae­ces. But even th­ese are not able to harm them be­cause their di­ges­tive sys­tem has adapted and evolved to de­stroy most of the dan­ger­ous bac­te­ria it in­gests. DNA pro­files of bac­te­ria liv­ing on the face and gut of 50 vul­tures showed, on an av­er­age, the pres­ence of 528 kinds of bac­te­ria on the face and 76 in the gut, in­di­cat­ing the majority of the bac­te­ria had been de­stroyed dur­ing the di­ges­tive process. Na­ture Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Novem­ber 25

FRANCO FOLINI

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