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Am J Primatol. 2011 May;73(5):449-57. doi: 10.1002/ajp.20921. Epub 2010 Dec 31.

Morphological and physiological aspects of digestive processes in the graminivorous primate Theropithecus gelada-a preliminary study.

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Institute of Animal Science, University of Bonn, Germany.


Hindgut fermentation has been suggested to contribute significantly to the digestive process in the gelada (Theropithecus gelada). We therefore hypothesized that in an in vitro fermentation test (Hohenheim gas test, using gas production as measure of microbial digestion) inoculum based on fresh gelada feces would degrade grass to a similar degree as zebra (Equus burchelli chapmani) feces and to a higher degree than that of hamadryas baboons (Papio hamadryas). Additionally, morphology of gelada tongue, salivary glands, stomach, and intestine were examined in this study. Gas production was measured between 4 and 96 hr using animal feces incubated with 200 mg of air-dry hay or mixed concentrate sample. For grass hay, 12-hr gas production was as follows: T. gelada (19.9 ml)>Papio (18.4 ml)>Equus (15.7 ml). After 24 hr, gas production changed: Papio (35.1 ml)>T. gelada (31.9 ml)>Equus (27.9 ml). At 96 hr, Papio was unexpectedly the most effective species with the highest gas production (53.1 ml)>zebra (51.2 ml)>gelada (49.4 ml). With a concentrate standard, 12-hr gas production was as follows: T. gelada (38.5 ml)>Equus (36.8 ml) = Papio (36.4 ml). At 24 hr, gas production differed: Papio (51.7 ml)>Equus (47.0 ml) = T. gelada (46.8 ml). At 96 hr, zebra was the most effective species with the highest gas production (63.9 ml)>Papio (60 ml) = T. gelada (59.9 ml). In conclusion, the results show that the microbial population present in gelada feces is able to ferment forage and concentrate substrates in vitro, although this fermentation did not occur with the expected effectiveness. Future studies should therefore focus also on the bacteria species involved.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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