Bacterial mechanisms to overcome inhibitory effects of dietary tannins

Alexandra H. Smith, Erwin Zoetendal, Roderick I. Mackie

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


High concentrations of tannins in fodder plants inhibit gastrointestinal bacteria and reduce ruminant performance. Increasing the proportion of tannin-resistant bacteria in the rumen protects ruminants from antinutritional effects. The reason for the protective effect is unclear, but could be elucidated if the mechanism(s) by which tannins inhibit bacteria and the mechanisms of tannin resistance were understood. A review of the literature indicates that the ability of tannins to complex with polymers and minerals is the basis of the inhibitory effect on gastrointestinal bacteria. Mechanisms by which bacteria can overcome inhibition include tannin modification/degradation, dissociation of tannin-substrate complexes, tannin inactivation by high-affinity binders, and membrane modification/repair and metal ion sequestration. Understanding the mechanism of action of tannins and the mechanism(s) bacteria use to overcome the inhibitory effects will allow better management of the rumen ecosystem to reduce the antinutritional effects of tannin-rich fodder plants and thereby improve ruminant production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-205
Number of pages9
JournalMicrobial Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Soil Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Bacterial mechanisms to overcome inhibitory effects of dietary tannins'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this