Volume 87 Issue 17 | p. 30 | Concentrates
Issue Date: April 27, 2009

Detox Genes Helped Pack Rats Adapt Diet

Pack rats in the Mojave Desert have developed genes coding for liver enzymes that allows the rodents to eat toxic plants during hard times
Department: Science & Technology

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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