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Appl Environ Microbiol. Feb 1995; 61(2): 583–591.
PMCID: PMC167322

Ruminal microbial digestion in free-living, in captive lichen-fed, and in starved reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus) in winter.


In free-living (FL) reindeer eating a natural mixed winter diet dominated by lichens, captive (CF) reindeer fed pure lichens ad libitum, and CF reindeer subsequently starved for 1 day (CS1 reindeer) or 4 days (CS4 reindeer), the dominant rumen anaerobic bacteria were characterized, their population densities were estimated, and ruminal pH and volatile fatty acid concentrations were determined. In the FL reindeer, the total median viable anaerobic bacterial population ranged from 18 x 10(8) to 35 x 10(8) cells per ml of rumen fluid (n = 4), compared with 26 x 10(8) to 34 x 10(8) and 0.09 x 10(8) to 0.1 x 10(8) cells per ml of rumen fluid in CF reindeer (n = 2) and CS4 reindeer (n = 2), respectively. The median bacterial population adhering to the rumen solids ranged from 260 x 10(8) to 450 x 10(8), 21 x 10(8) to 38 x 10(8), and 0.5 x 10(8) cells per g (wet weight) of rumen solids in FL, CF, and CS4 reindeer, respectively. Although there were variations in the rumen bacterial composition among the FL reindeer (n = 4), strains of Bacteroides, Fibrobacter, Streptococcus, and Clostridium dominated in the rumen fluid. Streptococcus spp. and Clostridium spp. were the dominant bacteria in the CF reindeer (n = 2), while in the CS4 reindeer (n = 2) the dominant bacteria were Fusobacterium spp., members of the family Enterobacteriaceae, and Eubacterium spp. Transmission electron micrographs of lichen particles from the rumen of one FL reindeer, one CF reindeer, and one CS4 reindeer show bacteria resembling Bacteroides spp. adhering to the lichen particles, evidently digesting the lichen hyphae from the inside.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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Selected References

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