The in vitro fermentation of maize stover as affected by faecal bacteria obtained from ungulates
The effect of different inoculum sources, obtained from the faeces of ungulates, i.e. horses (H), wildebeest (WB) and zebra (ZB) and combinations of inoculum sources on the fermentation of maize stover (MS) was investigated. Combined sources (CS) were: (1) H+WB, (2) H+ZB, (3) WB+ZB and (4) H+WB+ZB. Fresh faecal inocula were cultured in the laboratory on MS and lucerne (mixed in 1 : 1 ratio) with salivary buffer for 72 h at 38 °C prior to application as an inoculum or extraction of crude protein (CPZ) for enzyme assays. Crude protein was precipitated using 60% ammonium sulphate and analyzed for exocellulase, endocellulase and hemicellulase specific activities (μg reducing sugar/mg CPZ). An in vitro fermentation study was done by transferring 33 mL of laboratory cultured faecal inoculum into 67 mL of salivary buffer containing 1 g MS and incubating for 72 h at 38 °C. Exocellulase specific activities differed among the seven inoculum sources. Exocellulase activity ranked the different microbial sources according to their fibrolytic potential as follows: 1 > 2 > 4 > H > ZB > WB >3. Total gas, true degradability (TD), microbial yield and total short chain fatty acids (SCFA) were higher in the CS than in the individual systems. Systems 1 and 3 had the highest TD (714mg/g CPZ) and total SCFA (680 mg/g CPZ), respectively. True degradability, total gas, total SCFA, partitioning factor and degradability efficiency ranked the microbial ecosystems according to their fibrolytic potential as follows: 3 > 1 > 4 > WB > 2 > ZB >H. Inoculum sources differed in fibrolytic digestion, with microbes from CS (1) and (4) proving to be the best. Further investigation is essential towards using inoculums sources as possible feed additives in ruminants.
Keywords: Faecal digesta, fibrolytic competence