Gut Symbionts Help Hibernating Ground Squirrels Recycle Nitrogen and Maintain Muscle Through Winter

To get through a long winter without food, hibernating animals — like the 13-lined ground squirrel — can slow their metabolism by as much as 99 percent, but they still need important nutrients like proteins to maintain muscles while they hibernate. A new study from the University of Wisconsin (UW)–Madison shows that hibernating ground squirrels get help on this from microbes in their guts. The discovery could help people with muscle-wasting disorders and even astronauts on extended space voyages.

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