Antimicrobial Effect of Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) Phenolic Extract on the Ruminal Hyper Ammonia-Producing Bacterium, Clostridium sticklandii
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Ruminal proteolysis and subsequent amino acid degradation represent considerable economic loss in ruminant production. The hyper ammonia-producing bacteria (HAB) are largely responsible for amino acid deamination in the rumen. HAB can be controlled with ionophores, but they are also susceptible to antimicrobial plant secondary metabolites. Red clover (Trifolium pratense) is rich in soluble phenolics, and it is also more resistant to proteolysis than other legumes. The goal of this study was to identify phenolic compounds from Trifolium pratense cultivar Kenland, and determine if any of the compounds possessed antimicrobial activity against the bovine HAB, Clostridium sticklandii SR. HPLC analysis revealed that clover tissues were rich in the isoflavonoids formononetin and biochanin A, particularly in plants left to wilt for 24 h. Biochanin A inhibited C. sticklandii in bioassays that employed thin-layer chromatography (TLC). Both clover extracts and biochanin A inhibited the growth of C. sticklandii in broth culture, but formononetin had no effect. These results indicate that clover phenolic compounds may have a role in preventing amino acid fermentation.