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Hindgut chemical composition?

Has anyone sampled the hindgut contents (possibly at different stages of fermentation) to determine what proportion of secondary metabolites remain in comparison to the concentrations in the ingested foliage? This seems like a key point to determine to what extent hindgut fermentation is important for reduction in exposure to these compounds. Especially the volatile compounds might be mainly absorbed in the proximal parts of the digestive tract?

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Thanks for your comments Evan. Koala gut bacteria are certainly exposed to a number of eucalyptus secondary metabolites that pass through to the caecum, although there doesn’t appear to be much quantitative data published on this topic. These include monoterpenes, various triterpene alcohols, cyanogenic glycosides and formulated phloroglucinol compounds (FPCs), the latter of which are key anti-feeding compounds produced by the plant. We are currently collaborating with biochemists to provide more definitive answers to your questions, as we also recognise that a better understanding of what the gut bacteria are exposed to is central to interpretation of the metagenomic data.

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