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How Arabian Camels Stay Hydrated Despite Going Without Water for Weeks

Image for representative purpose only.

Image for representative purpose only.

Scientists analysed thousands of changes in the genes in camel kidneys as a result of dehydration and rehydration and found that the amount of cholesterol present in kidneys play an important role in saving water.

A thirsty camel can drink more than a hundred litres of water in just 13 minutes, but, probably you know camels for their special ability to survive in the extremely harsh conditions of the desert, for weeks without water. While camels store fat in their hump and break down later for sustenance, which is the core secret of this superpower of theirs, scientists found in a recent study that their kidneys also play an important role in optimising their use of water.

Scientists analysed thousands of changes in the genes in camel kidneys as a result of dehydration and rehydration and found that the amount of cholesterol present in kidneys play an important role in saving water. Scientists found that a decreased amount of cholesterol in kidney membranes, achieved using suppressed biosynthesis, helped the water in kidneys to be reabsorbed and produce highly concentrated urine, losing as little water as possible. The researchers validated the result by using different techniques.

"This is, to the best of our knowledge, the first time that the level of cholesterol has been directly associated with water conservation in the kidney. Thus, we describe a novel role for this lipid that may be of interest when studying other species," said Fernando AlviraI Iraizoz and Benjamin T. Gillard, the lead authors of the study said in a statement.

Scientists think that the latest research will prove to be valuable in understanding the water control mechanisms in animals in the context of climate change. The findings of the study were published in the Communications Biology journal on June 23.

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Domesticated in Arabian Peninsula about 3,000 to 6,000 years ago, Arabian camels are the most important livestock in the deserts and semi-arid regions of the Arabian Peninsula, Iran, North and East Africa, helping millions of people in their day-to-day lives. People use camels for carrying loads, producing milk, meat and shelter, riding and sports.

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first published:June 24, 2021, 15:04 IST