Industrial Applications of Rumen Microbes - Review -

  • Cheng, K.J. (Department of Animal Science, University of British Columbia Vancouver) ;
  • Lee, S.S. (College of Agriculture and Life Science, Seoul National University) ;
  • Bae, H.D. (Department of Dairy Science and Technology. Sung Kyun Kwan University) ;
  • Ha, J.K. (College of Agriculture and Life Science, Seoul National University)
  • Published : 1999.01.01


The rumen microbial ecosystem is coming to be recognized as a rich alternative source of genes for industrially useful enzymes. Recent advances in biotechnology are enabling development of novel strategies for effective delivery and enhancement of these gene products. One particularly promising avenue for industrial application of rumen enzymes is as feed supplements for nonruminant and ruminant animal diets. Increasing competition in the livestock industry has forced producers to cut costs by adopting new technologies aimed at increasing production efficiency. Cellulases, xylanases, ${\beta}$-glucanases, pectinases, and phytases have been shown to increase the efficiency of feedstuff utilization (e.g., degradation of cellulose, xylan and ${\beta}$-glucan) and to decrease pollutants (e.g., phytic acid). These enzymes enhance the availability of feed components to the animal and eliminate some of their naturally occurring antinutritional effects. In the past, the cost and inconvenience of enzyme production and delivery has hampered widespread application of this promising technology. Over the last decade, however, advances in recombinant DNA technology have significantly improved microbial production systems. Novel strategies for delivery and enhancement of genes and gene products from the rumen include expression of seed proteins, oleosin proteins in canola and transgenic animals secreting digestive enzymes from the pancreas. Thus, the biotechnological framework is in place to achieve substantial improvements in animal production through enzyme supplementation. On the other hand, the rumen ecosystem provides ongoing enrichment and natural selection of microbes adapted to specific conditions, and represents a virtually untapped resource of novel products such as enzymes, detoxificants and antibiotics.

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