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Changes in ruminal bacterial community composition following feeding of alfalfa ensiled with a lactic acid bacterial inoculant

Mohammed, R., Stevenson, D.M., Beauchemin, K.A., Muck, R.E., Weimer, P.J. (2012). Changes in ruminal bacterial community composition following feeding of alfalfa ensiled with a lactic acid bacterial inoculant, 95(1), 328-339.


Some silage inoculants help to improve silage quality and promote an increase in milk production, possibly through altering the rumen microflora. We hypothesized that rumen bacterial community composition (BCC) would be different in cows fed alfalfa ensiled with the inoculant Lactobacillus plantarum MTD/1 (LP) compared with those fed alfalfa ensiled without the inoculant (Ctrl). Eight ruminally cannulated Holstein cows were allotted to 2 diets (Ctrl or LP) in a double crossover design with four 28-d periods. Diets were formulated to contain (% dry matter basis) 28.0% neutral detergent fiber and 16.2% crude protein, and contained alfalfa silage, 50.9; corn silage, 20.6; high-moisture shelled corn, 21.4; soy hulls, 4.7; plus minerals and vitamins, 2.4. Ruminal digesta were collected just before feeding on 3 consecutive days near the end of each period, and were separated into solid and liquid phases. Microbial DNA was extracted from each phase, amplified by PCR using domain-level bacterial primers, and subjected to automated ribosomal intergenic spacer analysis. The pH was 4.56 and 4.86 and the lactate-to-acetate ratio 9.8 and 4.4, respectively, for the treated and untreated alfalfa silages. Dry matter intakes and milk production data were not influenced by diets but showed a cow effect. Total volatile fatty acids (mM) tended to be greater for LP compared with Ctrl. Individual volatile fatty acids were not influenced by diets but showed a significant cow effect. Ruminal acetate (mol/100mol) and acetate-to-propionate ratio were lower and propionate (mol/100mol) greater for the 2 milk fat-depressed (MFD; <3.2% fat content) cows compared with the other 6 cows. Correspondence analysis of the 265 peaks in the automated ribosomal intergenic spacer analysis profile across the 188 samples revealed that the first 2 components contributed 7.1 and 3.8% to the total variation in the profile. The ordination points representing the liquid and solid phases clustered separately, indicating that these phases differed in BCC. The analysis of similarity data showed differences between Ctrl and LP. The lactic acid bacterial counts (log 10 cfu/g of wet silage) were 3.94 and 4.53 for the untreated and treated silage, respectively, at ensiling. The relative population size (RPS) of L. plantarum, determined by real-time PCR of 16S rRNA gene copies, was greater in LP compared with Ctrl. The ordination points corresponding to certain individual cows clustered separately, and the most distinctive bacterial communities were those associated with MFD cows. The RPS of Megasphaera elsdenii was greater in 1 of the 2 MFD cows, although mean RPS of M. elsdenii did not differ between the treatments. In addition to the differences in rumen BCC between LP and Ctrl, MFD cows also displayed differences in BCC compared with cows with normal milk fat yield. © 2012 American Dairy Science Association.

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