Issue Date: April 27, 2009
Detox Genes Helped Pack Rats Adapt Diet
Pack rats living in the U.S.'s Mojave Desert are able to survive during hardscrabble times by adapting to a diet of toxic plants. A research team led by biologist M. Denise Dearing of the University of Utah has pinpointed a set of the rodent's genes that code for the production of liver enzymes that make this diet-switching possible (Mol. Ecol., DOI: 10.1111/j.1365- 294X.2009.04171.x). Pack rats normally eat "mildly toxic" juniper . . .
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