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J Anim Sci. 2012 Dec;90(12):4449-57. doi: 10.2527/jas.2011-4624. Epub 2012 Sep 5.

Rumen bacterial, archaeal, and fungal diversity of dairy cows in response to ingestion of lauric or myristic acid.

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Department of Dairy and Animal Science, Pennsylvania State University, University Park 16802, USA.


The objective of this experiment, part of a larger study, was to investigate changes in rumen bacterial, archaeal, and fungal diversity in cows fed medium-chain saturated fatty acids. In the main study, 6 lactating dairy cows were dosed intraruminally with 240 g/(cow · d) of stearic (SA, control), lauric (LA), or myristic (MA) acid in a replicated 3 × 3 Latin square design trial. Experimental periods were 28 d, and cows were transfaunated between periods. Lauric acid decreased protozoal counts in the rumen by 96% compared with SA and MA (compared with SA, MA had no effect on ruminal protozoa). Whole ruminal contents samples were collected 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 14, 18, and 24 h after the morning feeding on d 23 of each experimental period, stored frozen, and later composited by cow and period for microbial profile analyses, which involved tag-encoded flexible (FLX) amplicon pyrosequencing to provide diversity analyses of gastrointestinal bacterial, archaeal, and fungal populations of the cattle. The LA treatment, either directly or through its effect on protozoa, had a profound effect on the microbial ecology of the rumen. Ruminal populations of Prevotella, Bacteroides, and Enterorhabdus were decreased (P = 0.04 to P < 0.001) by more than 2-fold in LA treatments compared with SA, and Clostridium populations were decreased (P = 0.01) in LA- compared with MA-treated cows. The proportion of Ruminococcus was not affected by treatment, although the LA treatment had the least proportion of Ruminococcus. Proportions of Eubacterium, Butyrivibrio, Olsenella, and Lactobacillus genera were increased (P = 0.03 to 0.01) by LA compared with MA or SA. The LA treatment, possibly through its effect on protozoa physically associated with archaea, resulted in an increase (P = 0.01) in the archaeal methanogenic genus Methanosphaera and a decrease (P = 0.01) in Methanobrevibacter. Few changes in fungal populations caused by treatment were detected. Collectively, results indicate that LA, either through antiprotozoal or direct antimicrobial effects, altered bacterial and archaeal populations in the rumen of dairy cows, but effects on fungal populations were not clear.

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