Polyphenol oxidase (PPO) is predominately associated with the detrimental effect of browning fruit and vegetables, however, interest within PPO containing forage crops (crops to be fed to animals) has grown since the browning reaction was associated with reduced nitrogen (N) losses in silo and the rumen. The reduction in protein breakdown in silo of red clover (high PPO forage) increased the quality of protein, improving N-use efficiency [feed N into product N (e.g., Milk): NUE] when fed to ruminants. A further benefit of red clover silage feeding is a significant reduction in lipolysis (cleaving of glycerol-based lipid) in silo and an increase in the deposition of beneficial C18 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) in animal products, which has also been linked to PPO activity. PPOs protection of plant protein and glycerol based-PUFA in silo is related to the deactivation of plant proteases and lipases. This deactivation occurs through PPO catalyzing the conversion of diphenols to quinones which bind with cellular nucleophiles such as protein reforming a protein-bound phenol (PBP). If the protein is an enzyme (e.g., protease or lipase) the complexing denatures the enzyme. However, PPO is inactive in the anaerobic rumen and therefore any subsequent protection of plant protein and glycerol based-PUFA in the rumen must be as a result of events that occurred to the forage pre-ingestion. Reduced activity of plant proteases and lipases would have little effect on NUE and glycerol based-PUFA in the rumen due to the greater concentration of rumen microbial proteases and lipases. The mechanism for PPOs protection of plant protein in the rumen is a consequence of complexing plant protein, rather than protease deactivation per se. These complexed proteins reduce protein digestibility in the rumen and subsequently increase undegraded dietary protein flow to the small intestine. The mechanism for protecting glycerol-based PUFA has yet to be fully elucidated but may be associated with entrapment within PBP reducing access to microbial lipases or differences in rumen digestion kinetics of the forage and therefore not related to PPO activity.
- Polyphenol oxidase