Koalas health and diet shaped by their mother’s poo

Dr Michaela Blyton – Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Queensland

Koala joeys feed on their mothers’ poo to gain beneficial bacteria that help them to digest toxic eucalyptus leaves.

Researchers from the University of Queensland have found that this leads joeys to grow up with a mix of bacteria similar to their mothers. They also found that the bacteria of joeys with sick mothers do not develop properly.

A koalas’ gut bacteria can shape what they eat and it may be that these preferences can be passed from one generation to the next through their poo.

“Our research could help to improve the care of captive and orphan koalas by identifying the importance of koalas receiving the right bacteria early in life,” says Dr Michaela Blyton.

Written by Michaela Blyton and edited by Econnect Communication.

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