Ruminal microbial alterations associated with sulfide generation in steers with dietary sulfate-induced polioencephalomalacia

B. A. Cummings From the Department of Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523 (Cummings, Gould, Hamar), and the Department of Molecular Biology, College of Agriculture, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82701 (Caldwell).

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D. H. Gould From the Department of Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523 (Cummings, Gould, Hamar), and the Department of Molecular Biology, College of Agriculture, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82701 (Caldwell).

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D. R. Caldwell From the Department of Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523 (Cummings, Gould, Hamar), and the Department of Molecular Biology, College of Agriculture, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82701 (Caldwell).

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D. W. Hamar From the Department of Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523 (Cummings, Gould, Hamar), and the Department of Molecular Biology, College of Agriculture, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82701 (Caldwell).

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SUMMARY

Holstein steers were fed carbohydrate-rich, short-fiber basal diets with and without added sodium sulfate. Steers fed the high-sulfate diet developed the cns disorder polioencephalomalacia (pem). The onset of signs of pem was associated with increased sulfide concentration in the rumen fluid. Over the course of the disease, anaerobic rumen bacteria were enumerated in roll tubes by use of the Hungate method to determine the effect of dietary sulfate on sulfate-reducing bacterial numbers. Media used included a general type for total counts and sulfate-containing media with and without cysteine to assess sulfate-reducing bacteria. Changes in total and sulfate-reducing bacterial numbers attributable to dietary sulfate content were not observed. The capacity to generate hydrogen sulfide from sulfate in fresh rumen fluid in vitro was substantially increased only after steers had been fed the high-sulfate diet for 10 to 12 days, which coincided with the onset of signs of pem. The low capacity for hydrogen sulfide production of rumen fluid taken at earlier times in the feeding period suggests that rumen microorganisms must adapt to higher dietary sulfate content before they are capable of generating potentially toxic concentrations of sulfide.

SUMMARY

Holstein steers were fed carbohydrate-rich, short-fiber basal diets with and without added sodium sulfate. Steers fed the high-sulfate diet developed the cns disorder polioencephalomalacia (pem). The onset of signs of pem was associated with increased sulfide concentration in the rumen fluid. Over the course of the disease, anaerobic rumen bacteria were enumerated in roll tubes by use of the Hungate method to determine the effect of dietary sulfate on sulfate-reducing bacterial numbers. Media used included a general type for total counts and sulfate-containing media with and without cysteine to assess sulfate-reducing bacteria. Changes in total and sulfate-reducing bacterial numbers attributable to dietary sulfate content were not observed. The capacity to generate hydrogen sulfide from sulfate in fresh rumen fluid in vitro was substantially increased only after steers had been fed the high-sulfate diet for 10 to 12 days, which coincided with the onset of signs of pem. The low capacity for hydrogen sulfide production of rumen fluid taken at earlier times in the feeding period suggests that rumen microorganisms must adapt to higher dietary sulfate content before they are capable of generating potentially toxic concentrations of sulfide.

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