Fish oil increases the duodenal flow of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and trans-11 18:1 and decreases 18:0 in steers via changes in the rumen bacterial community

Eun J. Kim, Sharon A. Huws, Michael R. F. Lee, Jeff D. Wood, Stefan M. Muetzel, R. John Wallace, Nigel D. Scollan

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90 Citations (Scopus)


Ruminant fat is rich in SFA, partly due to the biohydrogenation of dietary PUFA to SFA in the rumen. This process can be inhibited by the dietary inclusion of fish oil. The only bacteria isolated from the rumen capable of converting PUFA to SFA are closely related to Clostridium proteoclasticum. The aim of this study was to investigate if a correlation could be found in vivo between dietary fish oil inclusions and the composition of the ruminal bacterial community and specifically of C. proteoclasticum. Six Hereford X Friesian steers, prepared with ruminal and duodenal cannulae, received grass silage plus 1 of 3 concentrates resulting in total dietary fish oil contents of 0, 1, or 3% of dry matter. A dual flow marker technique was employed to estimate the relative flow of fatty acids. Steers fed the 3% fish oil diet had 100% increases in trans 18:1 flow, whereas 18:0 flow declined to 39% of steers fed the control diet. 16S ribosomal RNA-based denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis profiles obtained from ruminal digesta showed major changes in the bacterial community within steers fed the 3% fish oil diet. Quantitative PCR indicated only a weak relation between numbers of C.proteoclasticum and 18:0 flow between treatments and in individual steers (P < 0.05, but the percentage variance accounted for only 22.8) and did not provide unambiguous evidence that numbers of C. proteoclasticum in the rumen dictate the ratios of SFA:PUFA available for absorption by the animal. Understanding which microbes biohydrogenate PUFA in the rumen is key to developing novel strategies to improve the quality of ruminant products.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)889-896
Number of pages8
JournalThe Journal of Nutrition
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2008


  • conjugated linoleic-acid
  • gradient gel-electrophoresis
  • milk-fat
  • clostridium-proteoclasticum
  • stearic-acid
  • dairy-cows
  • in-vitro
  • ruminal biohydrogenation
  • butyrivibrio-hungatei
  • bovine rumen

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