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Review Paper
Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences 2009;22(1): 131-138.
https://doi.org/10.5713/ajas.2009.r.01    Published online January 6, 2009.
Fibrolytic Rumen Bacteria: Their Ecology and Functions
Satoshi Koike*, Yasuo Kobayashi
Correspondence:  Satoshi Koike,
Among rumen microbes, bacteria play important roles in the biological degradation of plant fiber due to their large biomass and high activity. To maximize the utilization of fiber components such as cellulose and hemicellulose by ruminant animals, the ecology and functions of rumen bacteria should be understood in detail. Recent genome sequencing analyses of representative fibrolytic bacterial species revealed that the number and variety of enzymes for plant fiber digestion clearly differ between Fibrobacter succinogenes and Ruminococcus flavefaciens. Therefore, the mechanism of plant fiber digestion is also thought to differ between these two species. Ecology of individual fibrolytic bacterial species has been investigated using pure cultures and electron microscopy. Recent advances in molecular biology techniques complement the disadvantages of conventional techniques and allow accurate evaluation of the ecology of specific bacteria in mixed culture, even in situ and in vivo. Molecular monitoring of fibrolytic bacterial species in the rumen indicated the predominance of F. succinogenes. Nutritive interactions between fibrolytic and non-fibrolytic bacteria are important in maintaining and promoting fibrolytic activity, mainly in terms of crossfeeding of metabolites. Recent 16S rDNA-based analyses suggest that presently recognized fibrolytic species such as F. succinogenes and two Ruminococcus species with fibrolytic activity may represent only a small proportion of the total fibrolytic population and that uncultured bacteria may be responsible for fiber digestion in the rumen. Therefore, characterization of these unidentified bacteria is important to fully understand the physiology and ecology of fiber digestion. To achieve this, a combination of conventional and modern techniques could be useful.
Keywords: Fiber Digestion; Rumen Bacteria; Molecular Ecology; Uncultured Bacteria
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