Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 32, Issue 6, pp 1165–1180 | Cite as

Role of Tannin-Binding Salivary Proteins and Tannase-Producing Bacteria in the Acclimation of the Japanese Wood Mouse to Acorn Tannins

  • Takuya Shimada
  • Takashi Saitoh
  • Eiki Sasaki
  • Yosuke Nishitani
  • Ro Osawa


We studied the defense mechanisms against the negative effects of tannins in acorns by using the Japanese wood mouse (Apodemus speciosus) and acorns of a Japanese deciduous oak Quercus crispula, which contain 9.9% tannins on a dry weight basis. For the experiment, we allocated 26 wood mice into two groups: acclimated (N = 12) and nonacclimated (N = 14). Mice in the nonacclimated group were fed only acorns for 10 d after 4 wk of receiving a tannin-free diet. In contrast, mice in the acclimated group received ca. 3 g acorns daily in addition to the tannin-free diet for the first 4 wk, then they were fed only acorns for 10 d. Body weight, food intake, and digestibility were monitored. In addition, the amount of salivary proline-rich proteins (PRPs) and abundance of tannase-producing bacteria (TPB) in the feces of mice were measured. Of the 14 mice in the nonacclimated group, 8 died, whereas only 1 of the 12 in the acclimated group died. During the first 5 d of feeding acorns only, mice in the nonacclimated group lost, on average, 17.5% of their body mass, while those in the acclimated group lost only 2.5%. Food intake, dry matter digestibility, and nitrogen digestibility were higher in the acclimated group than in the nonacclimated group. The results indicate that wood mice can mitigate the negative effects of tannins by acclimation. Path analysis revealed that increased secretion of PRPs and abundance of Lactobacillus type of TPB might explain the acclimation to tannins.


Defense mechanisms against tannins Path analysis Plant secondary metabolites Proline-rich proteins Tannase-producing bacteria Wood mouse Acclimation 



We are grateful to Y. Segawa for assistance in laboratory work, Y. Takahata for instruction regarding the microbiological experiments, H. Itô for advice concerning path analysis, K. Hoshizaki for help in collecting acorns, I. Wallis for revising the manuscript, and two anonymous reviewers for instructive comments and discussion. All procedures in the field and laboratory followed the Guidelines for Animal Experimentation established by Japanese Association for Laboratory Animal Science. This study was supported in part by Grants-in-Aid (nos. 17570027 and 17370006) from the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture of Japan.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Takuya Shimada
    • 1
  • Takashi Saitoh
    • 2
  • Eiki Sasaki
    • 3
  • Yosuke Nishitani
    • 3
  • Ro Osawa
    • 3
  1. 1.Kansai Research Center, Forestry and Forest Products Research InstituteKyotoJapan
  2. 2.Field Science CenterHokkaido UniversitySapporoJapan
  3. 3.Graduate School of Science and TechnologyKobe UniversityKobeJapan

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