Do Anogenital Gland Secretions of Giant Panda Code for Their Sexual Ability?

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Biological Sciences

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To test the hypothesis of whether anogenital gland secretions (AGS) of giant panda code for their sexual ability, we collected AGS samples of 11 male (5 adult and 6 subadult) and 14 female (7 adult and 7 subadult) captive giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) from China Research and Conservation Center for the Giant Panda at Wolong, Sichuan, China from 1994 to 2002. The samples were analyzed by GC and GC-MS. The GC results showed that male and female pandas shared 20 constituents with equal capacity factors in the AGS. Further GC-MS analyses showed that there were a total of 95 compounds in the AGS. Nine constituents for the males and three for the females differed significantly in relative abundances between sexually active and inactive individuals, but no clear division between sexually active and inactive pandas by hierarchical cluster analyses on the relative abundances of a subset of 56 compounds. However, we were able to separate different age groups of male pandas by the constituents of AGS. 14 compounds were found significantly and negatively, and 8 compounds positively, correlated with pandas’ age by year. Our results suggest that the information contained in the AGS of panda might not code for pandas’ sexual ability but might for their age. These results will be valuable for captive breeding and conservation in the wild.


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Chinese Science Bulletin


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