Gastrointestinal implications in pigs of wheat and oat fractions. 2. Microbial activity in the gastrointestinal tract

K. E. B. Knudsen, B. B. Jensen, J. O. Andersen, Inge Tetens

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The present work was undertaken to study the microbial activity in various segments of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract of pigs as influenced by the source and level of wheat and oat dietary fibre (DF). Eight experimental diets were prepared from wheat and oat fractions and studied in a series of two experiments using wheat flour as the DF-depleted control. The diets in Expt 1 were based on wheat flour and three iso-DF enriched diets comprising fractions rich in wheat aleurone, pericarp/testa or bran. In Expt 2, oat bran was added to wheat flour to achieve the same DF intake level as in Expt 1. This series included further diets based on rolled oats and rolled oats plus oat bran. The eight diets were given to thirty-two ileal-cannulated pigs, with sixteen pigs in each experiment. After a total period of 34 d (Expt 1) and 42 d (Expt 2), the pigs were slaughtered 4 h post-feeding and samples taken for adenine nucleotides (adenosine 5'-triphosphate (ATP); adenylate energy charge (AEC)), organic acids (lactic acid (LA); short chain fatty acids (SCFA)) and pH at twelve sites of the GI tract. The microbial activity as measured by the ATP concentration was low in the stomach and the cranial two-thirds of the small intestine, but tended to increase in the distal third. In the caecum a sharp rise in microbial activity was observed; the highest level was found for the diet providing most fermentable substrates. In all the diets but the rolled oats + oat bran diets, microbial activity showed a descending pattern as the digesta moved through the colon. In the large intestine source and level of residues had a marked influence on microbial activity. LA was the chief organic acid in the stomach and small intestine (10-40 mmol/l) while LA relative to SCFA was a minor component in the caecum and colon (10-20 mmol/l). The contribution of SCFA to total organic acids was reciprocal to LA, i.e. low in the stomach and small intestine (<20 mmol/l) and high in the caecum and colon. In the large intestine the concentration of SCFA decreased from 100-140 mmol/l in the caecum and proximal colon to 40-80 mmol/l in the distal colon. The acetic: propionic acid ratio increased from the caecum to the distal colon. With the diets based on oat alone (rolled oats; rolled oats + oat bran) the increase was less significant. DF addition and oats in particular increased the butyric acid molar ratio, from 0.06-0.08 for the wheat flour diet to 0.10-0.12 for the diet based on rolled oats + oat bran. For the same two diets the proportion of isobutyric and isovaleric acids increased more rapidly with the wheat-flour diet compared with the rolled oats + oat bran diet.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)233-248
Publication statusPublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


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