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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Fields, Matthew
item Russell, James
item Wilson, David

Submitted to: Microbiological Societies Federation Of European
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/5/1998
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Ruminant animals depend on rumen microorganisms for their capacity to digest cellulose fiber, but the enzymes have never been purified or cloned. Cellulose-digesting and noncellulose-digesting ruminal bacteria have enzymes that can digest synthetic cellulose (CMC), but the role of these enzymes in native cellulose digestion had not been demonstrated. Our experiments indicated that the CMC digesting enzymes degraded the b-glucans of cereal grain. B-glucans are a soluble fiber source, and b-glucans have a different bonding pattern than cellulose. Results from research on ruminal cellulose digestion may allow scientists to increase the efficiency on feed utilization by ruminants.

Technical Abstract: The non-cellulolytic ruminal bacterium, Prevotella bryantii, grew rapidly on water soluble b-glucans, but a mutant deficient in carboxymethylcellulase (CMCase) activity could not. Native activity gels prepared with CMC and b-glucan indicated that the CMCase and b-glucanase activities migrated at similar rates. When a plasmid carrying the P. byrantii CMCase was transferred to Escherichia coli, the clone had CMCase and b-glucanase activities. P. bryantii grew on mixed b-1,3-1,4 glucans, but not on b-1,3 glucan, and similar results were obtained with the cellulolytic ruminal bacteria (Fibrobacter succinogenes S85, Ruminococcus flavefaciens FD1 and Ruminococcus albus B199). Mixed ruminal bacteria from cattle fed hay had twice as much CMCase activity as bacteria from cattle fed 90% cereal grain (P < 0.05), and the CMCase and b-glucanase activities were highly correlated (r2 = 0.93) for the 22 samples tested. The CMCase and b-glucanase activities of mixed ruminal bacteria migrated slowly through polyacrylamide gels, but the migration distances were approximately the same. When b-glucan-utilizing ruminal bacteria were isolated from cattle fed hay or 90% cereal grain, 70 and 38% of the strains, respectively, had CMCase activity. A similar trend was observed with cellobiose-utilizing isolates (70 and 35%, respectively, were CMCase positive). All CMCase positive, cellobiose-utilizing ruminal bacteria could grow on b-glucan. CMCase activity was not strongly correlated with cellulose utilization, and less than 15% of the CMCase positive isolates grew on ball-milled cellulose. Based on these results, the CMCases of ruminal bacteria provide a mechanism for utilizing water soluble b-glucans from cereal grains.

Last Modified: 05/27/2017
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