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Appl Microbiol. 1969 Jan;17(1):83-7.

Volatile fatty acids and the inhibition of Escherichia coli growth by rumen fluid.


Concentrations of volatile fatty acids (VFA) normally found in bovine rumen fluid inhibited growth of Escherichia coli in Antibiotic Medium 3. Acetic, propionic, and butyric acids each produced growth inhibition which was markedly pH-dependent. Little inhibition was observed at pH 7.0, and inhibition increased with decreasing pH. A combination of 60 mumoles of acetate, 20 mumoles of propionate, and 15 mumoles of butyrate per ml gave 96, 69, and 2% inhibition at pH 6.0, 6.5, and 7.0, respectively. Rumen fluid (50%) gave 89 and 48% inhibition at pH 6.0 and 6.5, respectively, and growth stimulation (22%) at pH 7.0. Rumen fluid inhibitory activity was heat-stable, was not precipitated by 63% ethyl alcohol, and was lost by dialysis and by treatment with anion-exchange resins but not with cation-exchange resins. These results are consistent with the idea that VFA are the inhibitory substances in rumen fluid. Previous results which indicated that rumen fluid VFA did not inhibit E. coli growth were due to lack of careful control of the final pH of the growth medium. The E. coli strain used does not grow in rumen fluid alone at pH 7.0.

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