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Appl Microbiol. 1975 May;29(5):692-701.

Rumen bacterial degradation of forage cell walls investigated by electron microscopy.

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Field Crops Utilization and Marketing Research Laboratory, Richard B. Russell Agricultural Research Center, Athens, Georgia 30604.


The association of rumen bacteria with specific leaf tissues of the forage grass Kentucky-31 tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) during in vitro degradation was investigated by transmission and scanning electron microscopy. Examination of degraded leaf cross-sections revealed differential rates of tissue degradation in that the cell walls of the mesophyll and pholem were degraded prior to those of the outer bundle sheath and epidermis. Rumen bacteria appeared to degrade the mesophyll, in some cases, and phloem without prior attachment to the plant cell walls. The degradation of bundle sheath and epidermal cell walls appeared to be preceded by attachment of bacteria to the plant cell wall. Ultrastructural features apparently involved in the adhesion of large cocci to plant cells were observed by transmission and scanning electron microscopy. The physical association between plant and rumen bacterial cells during degradation apparently varies with tissue types. Bacterial attachment, by extracellular features in some microorganisms, is required prior to degradation of the more resistant tissues.


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