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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2002 Nov 19;217(1):51-5.

The effect of bovicin HC5, a bacteriocin from Streptococcus bovis HC5, on ruminal methane production in vitro.

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Section of Microbiology, Cornell University, Wing Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


Methane represents a loss of feed energy to ruminant animals, and nutritionists have sought methods of inhibiting ruminal methane production. When mixed ruminal bacteria (approximately 400 mg protein ml(-1)) from a cow fed timothy hay were incubated in vitro with carbon dioxide and hydrogen (0.5 atm) for less than 8 h, the first-order rate of methane production was 17 micromol ml(-1). Semi-purified bacteriocin from Streptococcus bovis HC5 (bovicin HC5) inhibited methane production, by as much as 50%, and even a low concentration of bovicin HC5 (128 activity units (AU) ml(-1)) caused a significant decrease. Mixed ruminal bacteria that were transferred successively retained their ability to produce methane from carbon dioxide and hydrogen, and the first-order rate of methane production did not decrease. Cultures that were treated with bovicin HC5 (128 AU ml(-1)) gradually lost their ability to produce methane, and methane was not detected after four transfers. These latter results indicated that ruminal methanogens could not adapt and become resistant to bovicin HC5. When the chromosomal DNA was amplified with 16S rDNA primers specific to archaea, digested with restriction enzymes (HhaI and HaeIII) and separated on agarose gels, approximately 12 fragments were observed. DNA from control and treated cultures (third transfer) had the same fragment pattern indicating bovicin HC5 was not selective. Given the perception that the routine use of antibiotics in animal feeds should be avoided, bacteriocins may provide an alternative strategy for decreasing ruminal methane production.

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