Gut microbes help packrats eat poison

By Ashley Yeager, 15:30 PM July 21, 2014

Packrats can repeatedly eat poison if they have the right gut microbes.

Scientists had suspected this, but there wasn't much evidence to support the idea, so a team decided to test it in desert woodrats (Neotoma lepida). Some populations of this species snack on a bush called creosote, which is toxic, while other groups leave it alone. When the creosote-eaters were given antibiotics, their gut microbes changed so that they couldn't metabolize the toxins from bush. And when non-creosote-eaters ...

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