Panda genome revealed in a report in Nature News 13 Dec 2009 and Nature vol 63, p311, 21 Jan 2010. An international team of researchers has sequenced the genome of the giant panda, a large animal that looks like a carnivore but mainly eats bamboo shoots and leaves. Its genome was similar to carnivores but its T1R1 gene, which encodes the umami receptor protein used for tasting the savoury flavours, such as those in meat and cheese, is defunct. Wang Jun, deputy director of the Beijing Genomics Institute in Shenzhen, who led the sequencing project commented: “This may explain why the panda diet is primarily herbivorous even though it is classified as a carnivore.” Although it lives on a vegetarian diet the panda does not have any genes for cellulases – enzymes that break down cellulose in plants. Wang suggested “The panda’s bamboo diet may be dictated by its gut bacteria rather than by its own genetic composition.” Overall the panda genome is 80% similar to dogs and 68% similar to humans.

Editorial Comment: Notice the panda eats what it cannot digest by itself but survives quite well. The idea that the panda was a carnivore that became a vegetarian because it lost its umami receptor has one major problem. It can only survive on plants provided it already has the right gut bacteria. The giant panda serves as a reminder that all animals were originally created vegetarian (Genesis 1:26) and most did not become carnivores until after Noah’s flood when the environment degenerated and man and animals needed to eat meat to survive in many places on earth. The loss of a functioning umami gene probably made it less likely to develop a taste for meat, but the giant panda survived as a vegetarian because it has found a niche where there is enough plant food, it has no enemies (apart from man) and is large enough and capable of defending itself.

The loss of a functioning gene is not evolution. It is degeneration, and a reminder that the world is going downhill, not evolving upwards. Wang’s comment is a reminder of the fact that no living things function by themselves. Symbiotic relationships with bacteria, as seen in all animals, are vital to life. It seems symbiosis is the norm rather than the exception. However, with the degeneration that has occurred since the Fall of Man and the Noah’s Flood, some animals have lost their good relationship with bacteria . (Ref. mammals, genetics, China)

Evidence News 17 Feb 2010