Sichuan Wolong National Nature Reserve extracts DNA from panda droppings

The number of wild giant pandas in Wolong National Nature Reserve in southwest China's Sichuan Province has increased from 104 to 149, due to the use of traceability technology for DNA information. By collecting panda droppings, the researchers there can extract DNA from cells of the animal's guts. From the information of the DNA molecule, researchers can know more about the giant panda, such as distribution, gender and genetic connection. 

"We know that when the droppings are discharged from the giant panda's body, it's coated with cells that have been shed from the surface of the guts. Therefore, we can extract the panda's DNA from those cells. By analyzing the molecular biology, we can accurately identify the individual," said Li Sheng, researcher of the School of Life Sciences under Peking University.

Documenting pandas' DNA helps registering and restoring all pandas' information. 

"With the DNA archive, we can learn about the distribution areas of different giant pandas. On the other hand, we can evaluate panda's future population in the reserve," said Shi Xiaogang, director of the Mujiangping protection station under Wolong National Nature Reserve.

Wolong National Nature Reserve is the core area of China's Giant Panda National Park. The park covers 27,000 square kilometers and is home to 1,631 wild pandas.

(Cover image via VCG)

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