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Appl Microbiol. 1973 Nov;26(5):789-95.

Propionate formation from cellulose and soluble sugars by combined cultures of Bacteroides succinogenes and Selenomonas ruminantium.


Succinate is formed as an intermediate but not as a normal end product of the bovine rumen fermentation. However, numerous rumen bacteria are present, e.g., Bacteroides succinogenes, which produce succinate as a major product of carbohydrate fermentation. Selenomonas ruminantium, another rumen species, produces propionate via the succinate or randomizing pathway. These two organisms were co-cultured to determine if S. ruminantium could decarboxylate succinate produced by B. succinogenes. When energy sources used competitively by both species, i.e. glucose or cellobiose, were employed, no succinate was found in combined cultures, although a significant amount was expected from the numbers of Bacteroides present. The propionate production per S. ruminantium was significantly greater in combined than in single S. ruminantium cultures, which indicated that S. ruminantium was decarboxylating the succinate produced by B. succinogenes. S. ruminantium, which does not use cellulose, grew on cellulose when co-cultured with B. succinogenes. Succinate, but not propionate, was produced from cellulose by B. succinogenes alone. Propionate, but no succinate, accumulated when the combined cultures were grown on cellulose. These interspecies interactions are models for the rumen ecosystem interactions involved in the production of succinate by one species and its decarboxylation to propionate by a second species.

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