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Plant components with specific activities against rumen methanogens

  • A. Cieslak (a1), M. Szumacher-Strabel (a1), A. Stochmal (a2) and W. Oleszek (a2)

Abstract

A wide range of plant bioactive components (phytochemicals) have been identified as having potential to modulate the processes of fermentation in the rumen. The use of plants or plant extracts as natural feed additives has become a subject of interest not only among nutritionists but also other scientists. Although a large number of phytochemicals (e.g. saponins, tannins and essential oils) have recently been investigated for their methane reduction potential, there have not yet been major breakthroughs that could be applied in practice. A key tenet of this paper is the need for studies on the influence of plant components on methane production to be performed with standardized samples. Where there are consistent effects, the literature suggests that saponins mitigate methanogenesis mainly by reducing the number of protozoa, condensed tannins both by reducing the number of protozoa and by a direct toxic effect on methanogens, whereas essential oils act mostly by a direct toxic effect on methanogens. However, because the rumen is a complex ecosystem, analysis of the influence of plant components on the populations of methanogens should take into account not only the total population of methanogens but also individual orders or species. Although a number of plants and plant extracts have shown potential in studies in vitro, these effects must be confirmed in vivo.

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Zmora, P, Cieslak, A, Jedrejek, D, Stochmal, A, Pers-Kamczyc, E, Oleszek, W, Nowak, A, Szczechowiak, J, Lechniak, D, Szumacher-Strabel, M 2012a. Preliminary in vitro study on the effect of xanthohumol on rumen methanogenesis. Archives of Animal Nutrition 66, 6671.

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