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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Rumen microbial and fermentation characteristics are affected differently by bacterial probiotic supplementation during induced lactic and subacute acidosis in sheep

Abderzak Lettat124, Pierre Nozière1, Mathieu Silberberg1, Diego P Morgavi1, Claudette Berger3 and Cécile Martin1*

Author Affiliations

1 INRA, UR1213 Herbivores, Centre de Recherches de Clermont-Ferrand/Theix, F-63122 Saint Genès, Champanelle, France

2 Danisco France SAS, Zone d'Activités de Buxières, BP 10, F-86220, Dangé-Saint-Romain, France

3 Danisco France SAS, 20 rue Brunel, F-75017 Paris, France

4 Present address: Dairy and Swine R&D Centre, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada

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BMC Microbiology 2012, 12:142  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-12-142

Published: 19 July 2012



Ruminal disbiosis induced by feeding is the cause of ruminal acidosis, a digestive disorder prevalent in high-producing ruminants. Because probiotic microorganisms can modulate the gastrointestinal microbiota, propionibacteria- and lactobacilli-based probiotics were tested for their effectiveness in preventing different forms of acidosis.


Lactic acidosis, butyric and propionic subacute ruminal acidosis (SARA) were induced by feed chalenges in three groups of four wethers intraruminally dosed with wheat, corn or beet pulp. In each group, wethers were either not supplemented (C) or supplemented with Propionibacterium P63 alone (P) or combined with L. plantarum (Lp + P) or L. rhamnosus (Lr + P). Compared with C, all the probiotics stimulated lactobacilli proliferation, which reached up to 25% of total bacteria during wheat-induced lactic acidosis. This induced a large increase in lactate concentration, which decreased ruminal pH. During the corn-induced butyric SARA, Lp + P decreased Prevotella spp. proportion with a concomitant decrease in microbial amylase activity and total volatile fatty acids concentration, and an increase in xylanase activity and pH. Relative to the beet pulp-induced propionic SARA, P and Lr + P improved ruminal pH without affecting the microbial or fermentation characteristics. Regardless of acidosis type, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis revealed that probiotic supplementations modified the bacterial community structure.


This work showed that the effectiveness of the bacterial probiotics tested depended on the acidosis type. Although these probiotics were ineffective in lactic acidosis because of a deeply disturbed rumen microbiota, some of the probiotics tested may be useful to minimize the occurrence of butyric and propionic SARA in sheep. However, their modes of action need to be further investigated.

Acidosis; DGGE; Microbiota; Probiotics; qPCR; Rumen; SARA