Send to

Choose Destination
J Dairy Sci. 2019 May;102(5):3781-3804. doi: 10.3168/jds.2018-14985. Epub 2019 Mar 21.

Invited review: Plant polyphenols and rumen microbiota responsible for fatty acid biohydrogenation, fiber digestion, and methane emission: Experimental evidence and methodological approaches.

Author information

Food Scientist, viale delle Alpi 40, 90144, Palermo, Italy.
Dipartimento di Scienze delle Produzioni Agro-Alimentari e dell'Ambiente, University of Florence, Piazzale delle Cascine 18, 50144 Firenze, Italy.
Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie, Alimentari e Agro-ambientali, University of Pisa, Via del Borghetto 80, 56124 Pisa, Italy.
Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie, Alimentari e Agro-ambientali, University of Pisa, Via del Borghetto 80, 56124 Pisa, Italy; Centro di Ricerche Agro-ambientali "E. Avanzi," University of Pisa, Via Vecchia di Masrina, 6, 56100 Pisa, Italy. Electronic address:


The interest of the scientific community in the effects of plant polyphenols on animal nutrition is increasing. These compounds, in fact, are ubiquitous in the plant kingdom, especially in some spontaneous plants exploited as feeding resources alternative to cultivated crops and in several agro-industry by-products. Polyphenols interact with rumen microbiota, affecting carbohydrate fermentation, protein degradation, and lipid metabolism. Some of these aspects have been largely reviewed, especially for tannins; however, less information is available about the direct effect of polyphenols on the composition of rumen microbiota. In the present paper, we review the most recent literature about the effect of plant polyphenols on rumen microbiota responsible for unsaturated fatty acid biohydrogenation, fiber digestion, and methane production, taking into consideration the advances in microbiota analysis achieved in the last 10 yr. Key aspects, such as sample collection, sample storage, DNA extraction, and the main phylogenetic markers used in the reconstruction of microbial community structure, are examined. Furthermore, a summary of the new high-throughput methods based on next generation sequencing is reviewed. Several effects can be associated with dietary polyphenols. Polyphenols are able to depress or modulate the biohydrogenation of unsaturated fatty acids by a perturbation of ruminal microbiota composition. In particular, condensed tannins have an inhibitory effect on biohydrogenation, whereas hydrolyzable tannins seem to have a modulatory effect on biohydrogenation. With regard to fiber digestion, data from literature are quite consistent about a general depressive effect of polyphenols on gram-positive fibrolytic bacteria and ciliate protozoa, resulting in a reduction of volatile fatty acid production (mostly acetate molar production). Methane production is also usually reduced when tannins are included in the diet of ruminants, probably as a consequence of the inhibition of fiber digestion. However, some evidence suggests that hydrolyzable tannins may reduce methane emission by directly interacting with rumen microbiota without affecting fiber digestion.


plant secondary compound; rumen microorganism; tannin; volatile fatty acid

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center