Description of development of rumen ecosystem by PCR assay in milk-fed, weaned and finished lambs in an intensive fattening system
Balcells Terés, Joaquim
Yáñez-Ruiz, D. R.
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This study examined the reticulo-rumen characteristics of the microbial community and its fermentative characteristics in milk-fed, at weaning and finished lambs in a conventional fattening system. Five lambs were assigned to each of three groups: milk-fed lambs slaughtered at 30 days (T30), weaned lambs slaughtered at 45 days (T45) and 'finished lambs' slaughtered at 90 days (T90). At slaughter, rumen size, fermentation parameters (pH, volatile fatty acids and microbial enzyme activity) and protozoal counts were recorded. Quantitative PCR was used to quantify the genes encoding 16S and 18S ribosomal DNA of the rumen bacterial and protozoal populations, respectively, and the sequential colonization of the rumen by cellulolytic (Ruminococcus albus, Ruminococcus flavefaciens) and amylolytic (Prevotella ruminicola, Streptococcus bovis) bacteria, and protozoa (Entodinium sp.). Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis was used to study the development of rumen microbiota biodiversity. Intake of solid food before weaning caused a significant increase in rumen weight (p < 0.0001) and bacterial DNA (p < 0.05) and volatile fatty acid analysis concentration (p < 0.01), whereas pH declined. In milk-fed lambs, cellulolytic bacteria were evident after 30 days. Thereafter, in the 45-day and 90-day groups, the proportions of R. flavefaciens decreased and R. albus increased. Amylolytic bacteria were present in milk-fed lambs; the proportion of P. ruminicola increased in fattening lambs and S. bovis was the least abundant species. Protozoal concentrations were irregular; milk-fed lambs had a significant number of protozoa species from Entodinium and subfamily Isotrichiidae, but they disappeared at weaning. Lamb rumen were refaunated in some individuals at 90 days (Entodinium and subfamily Diplodiniinae spp.), although individual concentrations were variable.