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Arch Anim Nutr. 2015;69(3):212-26. doi: 10.1080/1745039X.2015.1034521. Epub 2015 Apr 24.

Effects of low dietary protein on the metabolites and microbial communities in the caecal digesta of piglets.

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a Laboratory of Gastrointestinal Microbiology , Nanjing Agricultural University , Nanjing , China.


Thirty-six healthy piglets (weighing 10 ± 1 kg; three animals per pen) were randomly allocated to two treatments: (i) a low protein diet (14% crude protein [CP]) supplemented with lysine, methionine, threonine and tryptophan (Group LP) and (ii) a normal protein diet (20% CP, Group NP), resulting in six replicate pens per treatment. One piglet from each pen was slaughtered at days 10, 25 and 45 of the experiment. For the whole experimental period of 45 d, Group LP had lower feed intake and daily gain and a higher feed-to-gain ratio compared with Group NP. At day 10, no effects on measured caecum metabolites were observed, but at days 25 and 45 in Group LP the concentration of ammonia-N, cadaverine, branched chain fatty acids and acetate were reduced. This was also true for the concentration of short chain fatty acids at day 45. The results of denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis showed that microbial diversity in Group LP was less abundant at day 25, but there was no difference at days 10 and 45. An unweighted pair group mean average analysis showed that the similarities were lower between Groups LP and NP at day 10 and higher at days 25 and 45. Quantitation results indicated that the numbers of Firmicutes and Clostridium cluster IV were lower in Group LP than in Group NP at day 25, but there were no differences at days 10 and 45. In conclusion, the low protein diet markedly reduced the metabolites of protein and carbohydrate fermentation and altered microbial communities in the caecal digesta of piglets.


caecum; dietary protein; digesta; metabolites; microbial flora; piglets

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