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Interpretive Summary: Forages and pastures symposium: forage biodegradation: advances in ruminal microbial ecology

By: A M Osorio-Doblado, K P Feldmann, J M Lourenco, R L Stewart, W B Smith, L O Tedeschi, F L Fluharty, T R Callaway

Forage degradation in the rumen is critical to producing ruminant animals. For many years, scientists were limited to biochemical techniques to understand how ruminal microbes degraded forage, impairing our understanding of which microbes were involved with degrading which forage components. However, we have understood that as the ruminant opened up plant cells to microbial activity, a succession of microbes was involved in colonizing and breaking fiber into increasingly smaller pieces. The recent development of sequencing techniques has allowed a more detailed understanding of changes in the microbial population of the rumen during forage degradation and the types of degradative enzymes produced by this complex microbial ecosystem. We described the enzymes involved in the degradation of specific forage components, how their end products impact the microbial population through cross-feeding interactions, and how fermentation products can impact food animal production.

Read the full article in the Journal of Animal Science.