Mojave Desert woodrat eats toxic plant with help from microbes

07/22/2014 | National Geographic News (free registration)

Desert woodrats in the Mojave Desert can digest toxic resin on creosote bush leaves with the help of microbes in their stomachs, according to research published in Ecology Letters. Scientists fed the toxic plant to woodrats from a different region that had never been exposed to the plant and the toxic effects quickly became apparent. But when researchers introduced microbes from the Mojave Desert rats into the test subjects, they were able to tolerate the toxic plant.

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