The Rumen Microbial Ecosystem

pp 382-426

Lipid metabolism in the rumen

  • C. G. HarfootAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, University of Waikato
  • , G. P. HazlewoodAffiliated withAFRC Institute of Animal Physiology Genetics Research

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Ruminants supply humans with a readily available source of fat in the form of both tissue and milk lipids. It has been known for over 50 years that the compositions of ruminant tissue and milk lipids differ markedly from those of non-ruminant herbivores (Banks and Hilditch, 1931), and much research has been done on ruminant lipids and on the microbial transformations in the rumen which are responsible for the distinctive lipid composition. Early reviews on lipid metabolism in the rumen are by Viviani (1970), in which there is much information on microbial lipid composition, and by Harfoot (1978), which takes a wider view. Much of the older work has been referred to in detail in these reviews. More general accounts are those of Hungate (1966), Prins (1977) and Hobson and Wallace (1982a, b). Since the first edition (1988) of the present book, two further reviews have been published; one by Jenkins (1993) on general lipid metabolism in the rumen, and a shorter review (Jenkins, 1994) dealing with factors regulating lipid metabolism.