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J Dairy Sci. 2010 Aug;93(8):3699-712. doi: 10.3168/jds.2009-2934.

Comparison of fermentation of diets of variable composition and microbial populations in the rumen of sheep and Rusitec fermenters. II. Protozoa population and diversity of bacterial communities.

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Departamento de Producción Animal, Universidad de León, 24007 León, Spain.


Four ruminally and duodenally cannulated sheep and 8 Rusitec fermenters were used to determine the effects of dietary characteristics on microbial populations and bacterial diversity. The purpose of the study was to assess how closely fermenters can mimic the differences between diets found in vivo. The 4 experimental diets contained forage to concentrate (F:C) ratios of 70:30 (high forage; HF) or 30:70 (high concentrate; HC) with either alfalfa hay (A) or grass hay (G) as the forage. Total bacterial numbers were greater in the rumen of sheep fed HF diets compared with those fed HC diets, whereas the opposite was found in fermenters. The numbers of cellulolytic bacteria were not affected by F:C ratio in any fermentation system, but cellulolytic numbers were 2.7 and 1.8 times greater in sheep than in fermenters for HF and HC diets, respectively. Neither total bacterial nor cellulolytic numbers were affected by the type of forage in sheep or fermenters. Decreasing F:C ratio increased total protozoa and Entodiniae numbers in sheep by about 29 and 25%, respectively, but it had no effect in fermenters. Isotrichidae and Ophryoscolecinae numbers in sheep were not affected by changing F:C ratio, but both disappeared completely from fermenters fed HC diets. Total protozoa and Entodiniae numbers were greater in sheep fed A diets than in those fed G diets, whereas the opposite was found in fermenters. Results indicate that under the conditions of the present study, protozoa population in Rusitec fermenters was not representative of that in the rumen of sheep fed the same diets. In addition, protozoa numbers in fermenters were 121 and 226 times lower than those in the sheep rumen for HF and HC diets, respectively. The automated ribosomal intergenic spacer analysis of the 16S ribosomal DNA was used to analyze the diversity of liquid- and solid-associated bacteria in both systems. A total of 170 peaks were detected in the automated ribosomal intergenic spacer analysis electropherograms of bacterial pellets across the full set of 64 samples, from which 160 were detected in at least 1 individual from each system (sheep or fermenter). Diversity of liquid-associated bacterial pellets was greater with G diets in fermenters but seemed to be unaffected by diet in sheep. Bacterial diversity in solid-associated bacteria pellets was greater for G diets compared with A diets in sheep and fermenters. Different conditions in the fermenters compared with sheep rumen might have caused a selection of some bacterial strains.

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