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J Anim Sci. 1998 Dec;76(12):3114-22.

Manipulating ruminal fermentation: a microbial ecological perspective.

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USDA, ARS, U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center, Madison, WI, USA.


The essential role of ruminal microflora in ruminant nutrition provides the potential for improvement in animal production via altering the numbers or activities of specific classes of microorganisms. Successful alterations will be facilitated by an understanding of the microbial ecology of the rumen based on its mechanistic underpinnings. Demonstrated improvements in ruminal fermentation can be traced to their consonance with well-established principles of microbial ecology (niche occupancy, selective pressure, adaptation, and interactions) and the thermodynamics and kinetics of substrate utilization. Application of these principles to several proposed alterations of the ruminal bacterial population allows a prediction of their relative feasibility. Improving fiber digestion, decreasing protein degradation, and detoxifying feed components that are present in low concentrations will be difficult to achieve in the rumen and are best approached by altering the feed, either genetically or with postharvest treatment. By contrast, the detoxification of feed components present in high concentration, and redirection of electron disposal away from methanogenesis, are more productive targets for microbiological research.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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