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I was excited today to read about a paper that just got published in Science that's all about how ruminant early-branching gut fungi break down lignocellulose.

I got interested in these fungi back when trying to think about comparisons for the digestive efficiency of leafcutter ant colonies. From my calculations based on measurements of leafcutter nests, a whole leafcutter colony has around the same degree of digestive efficiency as a ruminant sheep or goat.*

The breakthrough element of the present paper is how it has compiled different kinds of information sources to assemble a comprehensive picture of how lignocellulose digestion happens. In particular, they've used a combination of 'omics approaches (genomics, transcriptomics) and biochemical assays to figure out how ruminant guts compare to optimized commercial tricks for this kind of digestion.

Interesting stuff.


*How much of that digestive process actually gets turned into ants is a separate question.

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Mar. 12th, 2016 02:21 pm (UTC)
Fascinating.
( 1 remark — Remark )

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