Bioenergetics and intestinal phenotypic flexibility in the microbiotherid marsupial (Dromiciops gliroides) from the temperate forest in South America

Pablo A. Cortés, Marcela Franco, Pablo Sabat, Silvia A. Quijano, Roberto F. Nespolo

Resultado de la investigación: Contribución a una revistaArtículo

12 Citas (Scopus)


The microbiotherid marsupial Dromiciops gliroides inhabits the temperate forests of the Southern hemisphere, facing seasonal nutritional and energetic bottlenecks due to its apparently facultative insectivory/frugivory. In order to understand the physiological processes behind this ecological pattern, we studied the morpho-physiological changes that D. gliroides exhibits after dietary acclimation, in a sample of 21 wild-caught individuals fed over 1month with ad libitum diet of: (1) fruit, (2) insects or (3) a mix of insects and fruit. In addition, we measured oxygen consumption (VO 2) at resting conditions. We also performed enzyme assays (sucrase, maltase, trehalase and aminopeptidase N) and measurements of organ morphology. We found that D. gliroides cannot fulfil its nutrient requirements only from insects or fruit. It needs a mixed diet in order to maintain its body mass and energy balance. However, as a response of diet acclimation, individuals showed several-fold changes in the activities of aminopeptidase-N, maltase and sucrase (but not trehalase). This result, both the magnitude of change and the simultaneous effects on three enzymes suggests that D. gliroides could exhibit adaptive phenotypic plasticity in the activity of intestinal enzymes. This study suggests also that D. gliroides, the only living representative of the Microbiotheria order, exhibits physiological adaptations to a generalist diet.

Idioma originalInglés
Páginas (desde-hasta)117-124
Número de páginas8
PublicaciónComparative Biochemistry and Physiology - A Molecular and Integrative Physiology
EstadoPublicada - 1 oct 2011

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