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Vampire Bats are High in Protein

Vampire Bats have an unusual blood only diet which has resulted in a lack of nutrients. Vampire Bats are rich in proteins and a new study has found that this is due to the missing gene. The study was published in The Science Magazine.In the new study, researchers compared the genome of the common Vampire Bats with those of 25 other bat species. The analysis revealed that D. rotundus lacks functional copies of 13 genes that appear in the other bats; these missing genes are either completely absent from the vampires’ genome, or they contain so many mutations that they likely can’t produce functional proteins.

The study co-author Michael Hiller, a genomicist at the LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics in Germany, told The Scientist.  The Vampire Bats might benefit from having ditched these 13 genes. Losing the genes may help them extract nutrients from blood in ways other bats can’t, according to the study, which has not been peer-reviewed.

The Vampire Bats genome also lacked a gene called REP15, which is usually activated in the cells of the gastrointestinal tract, the authors noted in their study. Losing this gene would likely increase the amount of iron that can slip into the bats’ gastrointestinal cells, by boosting the number of “doors” that iron can pass through on the cell surface.

Several of the other missing genes appear to be involved in the bats’ digestion and metabolism, whereas others are related to the bats’ cognitive abilities and vision, the authors noted. And some of the missing genes have unknown effects on the bats’ physiology and warrant further study.

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