Assessing the ability of silage lactic acid bacteria to incorporate and transform inorganic selenium within laboratory scale silos

Michael R.F. Lee*, Hannah R. Fleming, Tristan Cogan, Chris Hodgson, David R. Davies

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
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Selenium (Se) is a non-metallic trace element essential for normal cellular function, which has been linked with reduced risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline and thyroid disease in humans. Se deficiency in livestock is associated with white muscle disease, retained placenta, ill-thrift and mastitis. Where Se status or bioavailability from the soil for plants is poor, livestock rely on supplemental Se in their diets predominantly as either sodium selenite (inorganic form) or selenised-yeast (organic form). As lactic acid bacteria (LAB) have been shown to incorporate Se as either organic or elemental (Nano-Se) there may be potential to use silage inoculant bacteria to improve the Se status of feed to provide the Se requirements of livestock. We screened twenty-seven LAB in MRS broth in the presence of sodium selenite for growth and uptake of Se as organic (selenocysteine and selenomethionine), inorganic (selenite and selenate) or/and Nano-Se, with the aim to identify potential candidates for a mini-silo study. Sodium selenite addition into the growth medium of LAB reduced growth rates but also resulted in the conversion of the inorganic sodium selenite into predominately Nano-Se and small quantities of organic-Se. Based on a rank analysis of growth and ability to take up (total Se content) and convert inorganic Se (Nano and organic Se content), three LAB were selected for further investigation as silage inoculants: L. brevis DSMZ (A), L. plantarum LF1 (B), and L. plantarum SSL MC15 (C). Each LAB was used as an inoculant within a grass mini-silo trial, either cultured in the presence of sodium selenite before inoculation or sodium selenite added to the inoculum at inoculation versus controls with no Se. The addition of sodium selenite either into the growth media of LAB or applied at inoculation of grass silage did not interfere with the ability of the LAB to act as a silage inoculant with no difference in silage fermentation characteristic between LAB with no Se added. The addition of sodium selenite either to the LAB growth medium or at inoculation resulted in the conversion of sodium selenite into Nano-Se and organic-Se (Nano-Se, ca. 103 higher than organic), as previously shown in the screening trial. There was no difference between the three LAB for incorporation of Se or in silage quality, indicating the potential to develop silage inoculants to increase the bioavailable form of Se (elemental and organic) to livestock through conversion of inorganic forms during ensiling.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-134
Number of pages10
JournalAnimal Feed Science and Technology
Early online date20 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019


  • Lactic acid bacteria
  • Nano-selenium
  • Silage inoculant
  • Silage quality
  • Inorganic selenium
  • Organic selenium

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