Isolation, characterization, and quantification of Clostridium kluyveri from the bovine rumen
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A strain of Clostridium kluyveri was isolated from the bovine rumen in a medium containing ethanol as an electron donor and acetate and succinate (common products of rumen fermentation) as electron acceptors. The isolate displayed a narrow substrate range but wide temperature and pH ranges atypical of ruminal bacteria and a maximum specific growth rate near the typical liquid dilution rate of the rumen. Quantitative real-time PCR revealed that C. kluyveri was widespread among bovine ruminal samples but was present at only very low levels (0.00002% to 0.0002% of bacterial 16S rRNA gene copy number). However, the species was present in much higher levels (0.26% of bacterial 16S rRNA gene copy number) in lucerne silage (but not maize silage) that comprised much of the cows’ diet. While C. kluyveri may account for several observations regarding ethanol utilization and volatile fatty acid production in the rumen, its population size and growth characteristics suggest that it is not a significant contributor to ruminal metabolism in typical dairy cattle, although it may be a significant contributor to silage fermentation. The ability of unadapted cultures to produce substantial levels (12.8 g L−1) of caproic (hexanoic) acid in vitro suggests that this strain may have potential for industrial production of caproic acid.
KeywordsButyric acid Caproic acid Ethanol Clostridium Rumen Silage
We thank Christine Odt for technical assistance, Nancy Betzold and the USDFRC barn crew for animal handling, and Richard Muck for helpful discussions. This research was supported by the USDA Agricultural Research Service thorough CRIS project 3655-31000-06-00D.
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