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PLoS One. 2015 Dec 30;10(12):e0144804. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0144804. eCollection 2015.

Fibrolytic Bacteria Isolated from the Rumen of North American Moose (Alces alces) and Their Use as a Probiotic in Neonatal Lambs.

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Department of Animal Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont, United States of America.
Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont, United States of America.


Fibrolytic bacteria were isolated from the rumen of North American moose (Alces alces), which eat a high-fiber diet of woody browse. It was hypothesized that fibrolytic bacteria isolated from the moose rumen could be used as probiotics to improve fiber degradation and animal production. Thirty-one isolates (Bacillus, n = 26; Paenibacillus, n = 1; and Staphylococcus, n = 4) were cultured from moose rumen digesta samples collected in Vermont. Using Sanger sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene, culturing techniques, and optical densities, isolates were identified and screened for biochemical properties important to plant carbohydrate degradation. Five isolates were selected as candidates for use as a probiotic, which was administered daily to neonate lambs for 9 weeks. It was hypothesized that regular administration of a probiotic to improve fibrolysis to neonate animals through weaning would increase the developing rumen bacterial diversity, increase animal production, and allow for long-term colonization of the probiotic species. Neither weight gain nor wool quality was improved in lambs given a probiotic, however, dietary efficiency was increased as evidenced by the reduced feed intake (and rearing costs) without a loss to weight gain. Experimental lambs had a lower acetate to propionate ratio than control lambs, which was previously shown to indicate increased dietary efficiency. Fibrolytic bacteria made up the majority of sequences, mainly Prevotella, Butyrivibrio, and Ruminococcus. While protozoal densities increased over time and were stable, methanogen densities varied greatly in the first six months of life for lambs. This is likely due to the changing diet and bacterial populations in the developing rumen.

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