Good news for giant pandas

High genetic diversity in animal's immune system could lead to better breeding

Giant pandas like this cub at China’s Wolong Nature Reserve have higher than expected genetic diversity in their immune systems.

Sheila Lau/Wikimedia

Giant pandas may be better at adapting to environmental stress than scientists thought.

Sheng-Guo Fang of Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China looked at genes that evolve in response to environmental pressures in the animal’s immune system and found that the markers had greater genetic diversity compared to similar genes in other endangered species.

The results, which appear October 22 in BMC Evolutionary Biology, could help scientists select the giant panda populations that would lead to the most successful captive breeding programs. The findings could also help conservationists maintain genetic diversity of giant pandas in the wild.

Ashley Yeager is the associate news editor at Science News. She has worked at The Scientist, the Simons Foundation, Duke University and the W.M. Keck Observatory, and was the web producer for Science News from 2013 to 2015. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.

More Stories from Science News on Life

From the Nature Index

Paid Content