An independent microbial flora of the epithelium and its role in the ecomicrobiology of the rumen

R. J. Wallace, K. J. Cheng, D. Dinsdale, E. R. Orskov

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72 Citations (Scopus)


It has been suggested that the bacterial flora of the rumen should be considered as three distinct, interacting populations-the bacteria of rumen fluid (the population which has been studied most extensively), the bacteria associated with food particles, and the bacteria adhering to the epithelial wall of the organ(1). Until now, studies of the 'epithelial' population have been restricted to examination of postmortem samples of wall tissue and its attached bacterial flora(2-5). A recently developed technique(6) for feeding young sheep for long periods solely by infusion of protein and other essential nutrients into the abomasum, and of volatile fatty acids and bicarbonate buffer into the rumen, has provided us with an opportunity to study in isolation the role of the bacterial population of the wall in the ecomicrobiology of the rumen in the living animal. Our studies show that this population can exist independently of the other two populations, that it is primarily responsible for urea digestion in the rumen and that it initiates breakdown of dead epithelial tissue. Furthermore, our results point to an inverse relationship between ammonia concentration and ureolytic activity in rumen fluid, which may account for the control which ammonia exerts over flux of urea across the rumen wall(7-9)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)424-426
Number of pages3
Issue number5712
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 1979


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