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Microbes make chemicals to mark scent in Cats

Domestic cats mark their respective territories using smelly secretions. They use this scents to communicate with other animals as well. 

The University of California’s Genome Center recently conducted a study on the scents that these cats secrete. They found that the odiferous compound found in the male cat’s body is manufactured by a group of bacteria found in their body. A journal named ‘Plos One’ published this study.

David Coil, a project Scientists who were part of this study, stated that the cats always use volatile chemicals to signal other animals. They don’t manufacture all of them. Different mammals, such as skunks, bears, pandas, hyenas, dogs, etc., use chemical languages. Skunks also use such chemicals for their self-defence as well.

For their research, the team of researchers selected a Bengal Cat after obtaining permission from its owner. They extracted the cat’s DNA for sequencing. It helped them to identify the types of bacteria found on the animal’s body. They conducted the sample’s DNA analysis at the UC Davis Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering. 

In their report, they found that the microbial community is not that diverse, and several bacterial genera dominate it. Coil stated that there are not many players.

The team successfully grew the most abundant bacteria from the screen found in the culture. A Postdoctoral Researcher from Davis’ Lab named Mei Yamaguchi analyzed the volatile chemicals that the bacteria were giving up. The team focused on technology that detected and characterized by volatile organic compounds that were having a low level. These bacteria are makers of several diseases such as citrus greening in different fruits and influenza among humans. 

Yamaguchi and the Lab went on to detect 67 different compounds that the bacteria residing on cat’s body released. The research team plans to conduct similar research on more cats in the coming days.


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