Effect of tea saponin on methanogenesis, microbial community structure and expression of mcrA gene, in cultures of rumen micro-organisms.
- PubMed: 19146532
AIMS: To determine the in-vitro effect and mode of action of tea saponin on the rumen microbial community and methane production. METHODS AND RESULTS: Saponin extracted from tea seeds was added to (1) an in-vitro fermentation inoculated with rumen fluid and (2) a pure culture of Methanobrevibacter ruminantium. Methane production and expression of the methyl coenzyme-M reductase subunit A (mcrA) were monitored in both cultures. Abundance of methanogens, protozoa, rumen fungi and cellulolytic bacteria were quantified using real-time PCR, and bacterial diversity was observed using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis. Addition of tea saponin significantly reduced methane production and mcrA gene expression in the ruminal fermentation but not with the pure culture of M. ruminantium. The abundance of protozoa and fungi were significantly decreased 50% and 79% respectively but methanogen numbers were not affected, and Fibrobacter succinogenes increased by 41%. Bacterial diversity was similar in cultures with or without tea saponin. CONCLUSIONS: Tea saponin appeared to reduce methane production by inhibiting protozoa and presumably lowering methanogenic activity of protozoal-associated methanogens. SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY: Tea saponin may be useful as a supplement to indirectly inhibit methane production in ruminants without a deleterious effect on rumen function.