Isolation and attempted introduction of sugar alcohol-utilizing bacteria in the sheep rumen

R. J. Wallace, N. D. Walker

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Bacteria that use sorbitol, xylitol, maltitol and dulcitol (galactitol) were isolated from the sheep rumen following enrichments in which bacteria were grown in rumen fluid medium where the sugar alcohol was the only added energy source. Only isolates obtained with sorbitol and maltitol grew sufficiently rapidly to be considered for enrichment by the sugar alcohol in vivo. Isolate SS2, a strain of Selenomonas ruminantium var. lactilytica which grew on sorbitol at 0.87 h, was selected for further study and a rifampicin-resistant mutant, SS2/R5, was isolated to facilitate tracking in the mixed population. Despite an initial transient increase in numbers, a significant population of S. ruminantium SS2/R5 failed to establish in sheep which were dosed twice daily with 10 g of sorbitol. Continuous infusion of sorbitol increased numbers only slightly compared with twice-daily dosing. In vitro experiments indicated that strain SS2/R5 grew less well in the presence of other rumen organisms, particularly ciliate protozoa, than in pure culture. Furthermore, the concentration of sorbitol in vivo was lower than predicted from in vitro experiments, indicating that sorbitol was absorbed rapidly from the rumen. Similar observations were made with xylitol, dulcitol and maltitol. Proposed enrichment strategies that use sugar alcohols or other materials to support the growth of introduced bacteria will thus have to take account of the combined problems of microbe-microbe interactions and the loss of the compounds by absorption from the rumen.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-359
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Applied Bacteriology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1993

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