Ruminal micro-organisms do not adapt to increase utilization of poly-phenol oxidase protected red clover protein and glycerol-based lipid

Michael R. F. Lee*, John K. S. Tweed, Nigel D. Scollan, Michael L. Sullivan, Michael R Lee

*Corresponding author for this work

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

12 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: The enzyme polyphenol oxidase (PPO) reduces the extent of proteolysis and lipolysis within red clover fed to ruminants with subsequent increases in the efficiency of N utilization and the level of beneficial polyunsaturated fatty acids in their products (meat and milk). It has also been reported that red clover feeding alters the rumen microbial population compared to grass feeding. This study investigated whether the observed shifts in the microbial population of the rumen when ruminants are fed red clover silage (RC) as opposed to grass silage (G) represented an adaptation by the micro-organisms to increase the utilization of PPO-protected protein and glycerol-based lipid.

RESULTS: The experiment consisted of two periods where ruminally fistulated dairy cows were offered either RC or G for 2 weeks, followed by collection of rumen fluid, which was then used in in vitro incubations to investigate lipolysis and proteolysis over time in plant material derived from red clover plants with either wild type PPO expression (PPO+) or PPO expression reduced to undetectable levels by gene silencing (PPO-). Proteolysis and lipolysis (P <0.05) were lower after 24h of incubation in the PPO+ treatment than the PPO- treatment irrespective of rumen fluid. Biohydrogenation of C18 polyunsaturated fatty acids was also lower on the PPO+ treatment than the PPO- treatment, with no effect of rumen fluid.

CONCLUSION: These results suggest that microbial changes to red clover feeding did not result in an increased ability of the micro-organisms in the present study to utilize either PPO-protected protein or glycerol-based lipid. (c) 2008 Society of Chemical Industry

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2479-2485
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Science of Food and Agriculture
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008


  • grass silage
  • proteolysis
  • polyphenol oxidase
  • lipolysis
  • red clover silage


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