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J Anim Sci. 2013 Apr;91(4):1753-7. doi: 10.2527/jas.2011-4892. Epub 2013 Feb 13.

Technical note: fatty acids and purine profile of cecum and colon bacteria as indicators of equine microbial metabolism.

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Animal Production Group, Animal and Veterinary Research Centre, University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, Vila Real, Portugal.


The potential use of odd- and branched-chain fatty acids (OBCFA) and purine bases (PB) as microbial markers in the equine hindgut was studied. For this purpose, feed particles adherent bacteria [solid associated bacteria (SAB)] and planktonic bacteria [liquid associated bacteria (PAB)] were isolated from total cecum and colon contents of 8 healthy, crossbred horses (9 ± 3 yr). Horses were fasted for 12 to 15 h before slaughter, and the cecum and colon were identified and clamped in their extremities to avoid mixing of digesta contents. The total cecum or colon contents was collected into thermal containers previously filled with CO2, immediately transported to the laboratory, and subjected to separation of solid and liquid phases to obtain bacterial PAB and SAB pellets from each horse. Overall differences observed were mainly between site of bacterial collection (cecum vs. colon) rather than between type of bacterial population (PAB vs. SAB). Cecal bacteria fraction had greater (P < 0.05) OM, PB, and branched-chain fatty acids (BCFA):odd-chain fatty acids (OFA) ratio but less (P < 0.05) BCFA, OFA, BCFA:PB ratio, and adenine:guanine ratio than colon bacterial biomass. Results indicated that the composition of cecal and colon bacteria is very different from that of similar ecosystems (e.g., rumen). These differences can be a reflection of different growth stages or nutrition of particular populations as well as different bacterial metabolic activities. Results presented herein provide evidence that PB and fatty acids can be used as microbial markers in equine studies.

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