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Scientific Reports
Vol. 6, 2016


The Potential Role of Seaweeds in the Natural Manipulation of Rumen Fermentation and Methane Production

Margarida R. G. Maia, António J. M. Fonseca, Hugo M. Oliveira, Carla Mendonça & Ana R. J. Cabrita

REQUIMTE, LAQV, ICBAS, Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas de Abel Salazar, Universidade do Porto, Rua de Jorge Viterbo Ferreira n.° 228, 4050-313 Porto, Portugal.

Abstract

This study is the first to evaluate the effects of five seaweeds (Ulva sp., Laminaria ochroleucaSaccharina latissimaGigartina sp., and Gracilaria vermiculophylla) on gas and methane production and ruminal fermentation parameters when incubated in vitro with two substrates (meadow hay and corn silage) for 24 h. Seaweeds led to lower gas production, with Gigartina sp. presenting the lowest value. When incubated with meadow hay, Ulva sp., Gigartina sp. and G. vermiculophylla decreased methane production, but with corn silage, methane production was only decreased by G. vermiculophylla. With meadow hay, L. ochroleuca and S. latissima promoted similar methane production as the control, but with corn silage, L. ochroleuca increased it. With the exception of S. latissima, all seaweeds promoted similar levels of total volatile fatty acid production. The highest proportion of acetic acid was produced with Ulva sp., G. vermiculophylla, and S. latissima; the highest proportion of butyric acid with the control and L. ochroleuca; and the highest proportion of iso-valeric acid with Gigartina sp. These results reveal the potential of seaweeds to mitigate ruminal methane production and the importance of the basal diet. To efficiently use seaweeds as feed ingredients with nutritional and environmental benefits, more research is required to determine the mechanisms underlying seaweed and substrate interactions.

 
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