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Type: Journal article
Title: Scaling at different ontogenetic stages: gastrointestinal tract contents of a marsupial foregut fermenter, the western grey kangaroo Macropus fuliginosus melanops
Author: Munn, A.J.
Snelling, E.P.
Taggart, D.A.
Clauss, M.
Citation: Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Molecular and Integrative Physiology, 2021; 264:111100-1-111100-11
Publisher: Elsevier
Issue Date: 2021
ISSN: 1095-6433
Statement of
Adam J.Munn, Edward P.Snelling, David A.Taggart, Marcus Clauss
Abstract: Prominent ontogenetic changes of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) should occur in mammals whose neonatal diet of milk differs from that of adults, and especially in herbivores (as vegetation is particularly distinct from milk), and even more so in foregut fermenters, whose forestomach only becomes functionally relevant with vegetation intake. Due to the protracted lactation in marsupials, ontogenetic differences can be particularly well investigated in this group. Here, we report body mass (BM) scaling relationships of wet GIT content mass in 28 in-pouch young (50 g to 3 kg) and 15 adult (16-70 kg) western grey kangaroos Macropus fuliginosus melanops. Apart from the small intestinal contents, in-pouch young and adults did not differ in the scaling exponents ('slope' in log-log plots) but did differ in the scaling factor ('intercept'), with an implied substantial increase in wet GIT content mass during the out-of-pouch juvenile period. In contrast to forestomach contents, caecum contents were elevated in juveniles still in the pouch, suggestive of fermentative digestion of milk and intestinal secretion residues, particularly in the caecum. The substantial increase in GIT contents (from less than 1 to 10-20% of BM) was associated mainly with the increase in forestomach contents (from 25 to 80% of total GIT contents) and a concomitant decrease in small intestine contents (from 50 to 8%), emphasizing the shifting relevance of auto-enzymatic and allo-enzymatic (microbial) digestion. There was a concomitant increase in the contents-to-tissue ratio of the fermentation chambers (forestomach and caecum), but this ratio generally did not change for the small intestine. Our study not only documents significant ontogenetic changes in digestive morpho-physiology, but also exemplifies the usefulness of intraspecific allometric analyses for quantifying these changes.
Keywords: Allometry
Gastrointestinal tract
Rights: © 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc.
DOI: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2021.111100
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Appears in Collections:Zoology publications

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