Animal Production Science Animal Production Science Society
Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals
REVIEW

Biofilm compartmentalisation of the rumen microbiome: modification of fermentation and degradation of dietary toxins

R. A. Leng
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

School of Environmental and Rural Science, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia. Email: rleng@ozemail.com.au

Animal Production Science 57(11) 2188-2203 https://doi.org/10.1071/AN17382
Submitted: 7 June 2017  Accepted: 27 July 2017   Published: 4 September 2017

Abstract

Many deleterious chemicals in plant materials ingested by ruminants produce clinical effects, varying from losses of production efficiency through to death. Many of the effects are insidious, often going unrecognised by animal managers. When secondary plant compounds enter the rumen, they may undergo modification by rumen microbes, which often removes the deleterious compounds, but in specific instances, the deleterious effect may be enhanced. Improved understanding of rumen ecology, particularly concerning the biofilm mode of microbial fermentation, has led to major advances in our understanding of fermentation. In the present review, the potential impact of the physical structuring of the rumen microbiome is discussed in relation to how several economically important secondary plant compounds and other toxins are metabolised by the rumen microbiome and how their toxic effects may be remedied by providing inert particles with a large surface area to weight ratio in the diet. These particles provide additional surfaces for attachment of rumen microorganisms that help alleviate toxicity problems associated with deleterious compounds, including fluoroacetate, mimosine, mycotoxins, cyanoglycosides and hydrogen cyanide. The review first summarises the basic science of biofilm formation and describes the properties of biofilms and their roles in the rumen. It then addresses how biofilms on inert solids and fermentable particulates may assist in detoxification of potentially toxic compounds. A hypothesis that explains how nitrate poisoning may occur as a result of compartmentalisation of nitrate and nitrite reduction in the rumen is included.

Additional keywords: fluoroacetate, mimosine, mycotoxins, nitrate.


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