Enumeration of anaerobic bacterial microflora of the equine gastrointestinal tract.

R. I. Mackie, C. A. Wilkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Samples from the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum, as well as from the cecum and colon, were obtained from 11 mature grass-fed horses. Viable counts of total culturable and proteolytic bacteria were made on habitat-simulating media containing 40% clarified ruminal fluid. The mean pHs in the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum were 6.32, 7.10, and 7.47, respectively; the mean pH decreased to 6.7 in the hindgut. The acetate concentration increased along the length of the small intestine and was the only volatile fatty acid present in this gut segment. Molar proportions of acetate, propionate, and butyrate in the hindgut were 85:10:3. Differences in bacterial counts on habitat-simulating media containing equine cecal fluid or clarified ruminal fluid were negligible. Bacterial counts showed a substantial population in the duodenum (ca. 2.9 x 10(6) per g [wet weight] of sample), and this increased to 29.0 x 10(6) in the jejunum and 38.4 x 10(6) in the ileum. Proteolytic bacteria formed a high proportion of the total culturable bacteria, especially in duodenal samples. Counts of proteolytic bacteria per gram (wet weight) of sample were 3.0 x 10(6), 15.6 x 10(6), and 22.0 x 10(6) in the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum, respectively. There was a close relationship between lumenal and mucosal bacterial counts, although actual values were lower in mucosal samples. The mucosal bacterial population in the duodenum was high relative to the lumenal population. Although the comparison of bacterial populations in the hindgut of the horse and white rhino was limited to a single animal, the results were of interest. Counts were higher in the cecum than in the colon for both the horse and the white rhino.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2155-2160
Number of pages6
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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