A Review of Interactions between Dietary Fiber and the Gastrointestinal Microbiota and Their Consequences on Intestinal Phosphorus Metabolism in Growing Pigs

Metzler, B.U.;Mosenthin, R.

  • Received : 2007.08.15
  • Accepted : 2007.08.24
  • Published : 2008.04.01


Dietary fiber is an inevitable component in pig diets. In non-ruminants, it may influence many physiological processes in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) such as transit time as well as nutrient digestion and absorption. Moreover, dietary fiber is also the main substrate of intestinal bacteria. The bacterial community structure is largely susceptible to changes in the fiber content of a pig's diet. Indeed, bacterial composition in the lower GIT will adapt to the supply of high levels of dietary fiber by increased growth of bacteria with cellulolytic, pectinolytic and hemicellulolytic activities such as Ruminococcus spp., Bacteroides spp. and Clostridium spp. Furthermore, there is growing evidence for growth promotion of beneficial bacteria, such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, by certain types of dietary fiber in the small intestine of pigs. Studies in rats have shown that both phosphorus (P) and calcium (Ca) play an important role in the fermentative activity and growth of the intestinal microbiota. This can be attributed to the significance of P for the bacterial cell metabolism and to the buffering functions of Ca-phosphate in intestinal digesta. Moreover, under P deficient conditions, ruminal NDF degradation as well as VFA and bacterial ATP production are reduced. Similar studies in pigs are scarce but there is some evidence that dietary fiber may influence the ileal and fecal P digestibility as well as P disappearance in the large intestine, probably due to microbial P requirement for fermentation. On the other hand, fermentation of dietary fiber may improve the availability of minerals such as P and Ca which can be subsequently absorbed and/or utilized by the microbiota of the pig's large intestine.


Dietary Fiber;Bacteria;Fermentation;Phosphorus;Pigs


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