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Applied and Environmental Microbiology
77, No. 21, 2011; Pages: 7499 - 7507

Microbial dynamics during aerobic exposure of corn silage stored under oxygen barrier or polyethylene films

Paola Dolci, Ernesto Tabacco, Luca Cocolin and Giorgio Borreani

Dipartimento di Agronomia, Selvicoltura e Gestione del Territorio, University of Torino, Via L. da Vinci 44, 10095 Grugliasco (Torino), Italy.


The aims of this study were to compare the effects of sealing forage corn with a new oxygen barrier film with those obtained by using a conventional polyethylene film. This comparison was made during both ensilage and subsequent exposure of silage to air and included chemical, microbiological, and molecular (DNA and RNA) assessments. The forage was inoculated with a mixture of Lactobacillus buchneri, Lactobacillus plantarum, and Enterococcus faecium and ensiled in polyethylene (PE) and oxygen barrier (OB) plastic bags. The oxygen permeability of the PE and OB films was 1,480 and 70 cm3 m−2 per 24 h at 23°C, respectively. The silages were sampled after 110 days of ensilage and after 2, 5, 7, 9, and 14 days of air exposure and analyzed for fermentation characteristics, conventional microbial enumeration, and bacterial and fungal community fingerprinting via PCR - denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) and reverse transcription (RT)-PCR-DGGE. The yeast counts in the PE and OB silages were 3.12 and 1.17 log10 CFU g−1, respectively, with corresponding aerobic stabilities of 65 and 152 h. Acetobacter pasteurianus was present at both the DNA and RNA levels in the PE silage samples after 2 days of air exposure, whereas it was found only after 7 days in the OB silages. RT-PCR-DGGE revealed the activity of Aspergillus fumigatus in the PE samples from the day 7 of air exposure, whereas it appeared only after 14 days in the OB silages. It has been shown that the use of an oxygen barrier film can ensure a longer shelf life of silage after aerobic exposure.

Keywords:Lactobacillus buchneri, Lactobacillus plantarum, Enterococcus faecium, Acetobacter pasteurianus, Aspergillus fumigatus.


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