Enumeration of selected anaerobic bacterial groups in cecal and colonic contents of growing-finishing pigs.


Selected anaerobic bacterial groups in cecal and colonic contents of clinically healthy pigs fed a corn-soybean meal production diet were determined at sacrifice after 4, 8, and 11 weeks on feed, corresponding to intervals within the growing-finishing growth period. By using ruminal fluid-based media, the densities of the culturable anaerobic population; the cellulolytic, pectin-fermenting, pectin-hydrolyzing, xylan-fermenting; and the xylan-hydrolyzing, sulfate-reducing, and methanogenic bacterial populations were estimated. An analysis of variance was performed on these bacterial group variables to examine the effects of phase (weeks on feed), site (cecum or colon), or the interaction of phase with site. The population of total anaerobic bacteria was twice as dense in the colon as it was in the cecum (2 x 10(10) versus 1 x 10(10)/g [wet weight]; P = 0.001). The proportion of cellulolytic bacteria was lower at 4 weeks on feed than at 8 or 11 weeks (23 versus 32%; P = 0.026), while the proportion of pectin-fermenting bacteria depended on the interaction of phase with site (P = 0.021). The numbers of sulfate-reducing bacteria were significantly higher in the colon than in the cecum (6 x 10(7) versus 3 x 10(7); P = 0.014), as were methanogenic bacteria (19 x 10(7) versus 0.6 x 10(7); P = 0.0002). The remaining bacterial groups were stable with respect to phase and site. The results suggest that except for density differences, the microbial communities of the pig cecum and colon are similar in composition throughout the growing-finishing phase.

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