The hoatzin is the only bird known to have pregastric fermentation in the crop. This digestive strategy is supported by morphological and microbiological adaptations analogous to those present in ruminants and ruminant-like mammals. The hoatzin expresses a lysozyme-like bacteriolytic activity in its foregut. The enzyme has a high activity, and its low pH optimum, pepsin resistance and localization to the proventriculus allow it to be active for digestion in the stomach. The hoatzin enzyme and the ruminant gastric lysozyme present similar biochemical characteristics. The lysis of bacterial cells may be of significance for the nutrition of the hoatzin. We propose that the hoatzin expresses a lysozyme which has been recruited to function as a digestive enzyme, representing a unique case of evolutionary convergence of digestive adaptations in this bird and foregut fermenter mammals.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- foregut fermentation