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J Sci Food Agric. 2020 Jan 9. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.10255. [Epub ahead of print]

Betaine addition as a potent ruminal fermentation modulator under hyperthermal and hyperosmotic conditions in vitro.

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Institute of Animal Nutrition and Functional Plant Compounds, Department for Farm Animals and Veterinary Public Health, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, 1210, Vienna, Austria.
Section of Animal Nutrition, Department of Animal Sciences, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore sub-campus Jhang, 12 KM Chiniot road, Jhang, Pakistan.
AGRANA Stärke GmbH, 1020, Vienna, Austria.



Climatic and dietary shifts predispose ruminal microbes to hyperthermal and hyperosmotic stress, leading to the poor fermentation and subsequently adverse effects on ruminant productivity. Betaine may function as substrate, osmolyte, antioxidant, and methyl donor for microbes. However, its effect depends on the extent of microbial catabolism. The present study revealed the ruminal disappearance kinetics of betaine and its dose-effect on ruminal fermentation during thermal and osmotic stress using rumen simulation technique.


Three different betaine doses were used: 0, 50, and 286 mg L-1 , each was assigned to two incubation temperatures: 39.5 and 42°C and two osmotic conditions: 295 and 420 mOsmol kg-1 . Betaine disappeared rapidly within the first 6 h of incubation; however, the rate was lower during hyperosmotic stress (P < 0.05), the stress condition that also suppressed the overall fermentation and degradation of organic nutrients and decreased the bacterial diversity (P < 0.001). During hyperosmotic stress, betaine shifted the fermentation pathway to more propionate (P < 0.05). Betaine counteracted the negative effect of hyperthermal stress on total short-chain fatty acid concentration (P < 0.05) without affecting the composition. Both stress conditions shifted the bacterial composition, but the effect of betaine was minimal.


Despite its rapid ruminal disappearance, betaine modulated microbial fermentation in different ways depending on stress conditions, indicating the plasticity of betaine effect in response to various kinds of physicochemical stress. Although betaine did not affect the abundance of ruminal microbiota, the enhanced fermentation suggests an improved microbial metabolic activity under stress conditions. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.


16S rRNA bacteria; Betaine; hyperosmotic stress; hyperthermal stress; ruminal fermentation


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