Microbial Effects On Host Animals

Table 2 Common bacteria in the hindgut of pigs

Bacteroides fragilis Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron Bacteroides uniformis Bacteroides suis Butyrivibrio fibrisolvens Clostridium perfringens Escherichia coli Eubacterium aerofaciens Fibrobacter succinogenes Lactobacillus acidophilus Lactobacillus brevis Lactobacillus cellobiosus Lactobacillus fermentum Lactobacillus salivarius Methanobrevibacter spp Peptostreptococcus productus Prevotella bryantii Prevotella ruminicola Proteus spp

Ruminococcus flavefaciens Selenomonas ruminantium Streptococcus bovis Streptococcus equinus Streptococcus faecalis Streptococcus intestinalis Streptococcus salivarius Veillonella spp

A stable intestinal microflora is inherently more resistant to pathogenic infection than an unstable one. The health of the gastrointestinal tract has a direct bearing on the growth and productivity of livestock animals, since the gut comprises the body's largest organ and represents a considerable part of the animal's protein and energy requirements.1-3-1 Some of the benefits and negative effects of intestinal microorganisms in the intestinal tract are given in Table 3. The large mass of adherent autochthonous bacterial population is in itself an important physiological contribution to the health of the animal. It provides a

Table 3 The effects of gut microorganisms


Negative effects

Synthesis of vitamins B and K

Detoxification of food components or endogenous products Recovery of endogenous nitrogen

Production of digestive enzymes, e.g., bacterial amylase for starch digestion

Production of toxic metabolites Modification of nutrients

Release of toxins from nontoxic precursors Uptake of nutrients, e.g., amino acids. Decreased digestibility of fat due to altering lipids and bile salts

formidable barrier through which a pathogen must penetrate to establish itself. However, perturbations such as antibiotic treatment, stress, and abrupt diet modification can disrupt the adherent flora and allow a pathogen to temporarily flourish in the gastrointestinal tract.

The microbial end products of the hindgut fermentation include the short-chain fatty acids acetate, propionate, and butyrate, along with the gases methane, hydrogen, and carbon dioxide. In the young pig, the short-chain fatty acids can contribute up to 30% of the maintenance energy of the animal, while in the adult pig this may be even greater. Among other animals, large variations exist in the amount of energy derived from hindgut volatile fatty acids, with the dog and human being at the low end (<5%) and the horse at the high end (>30%). Although volatile fatty acids and vitamins synthesized in the hindgut benefit the animal, the microbes also impose a considerable burden to the animals in terms of replacement of epithelial cells, detoxification of microbial metabolites, and production of inflammatory and immunological cells. The benefits and negative effects of microbes in the hindgut are further discussed elsewhere in this encyclopedia.

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