Regulation of Dietary Protein Solubility Improves Ruminal Nitrogen Metabolism In Vitro: Role of Bacteria–Protozoa Interactions

Zhenbin Zhang, Wenjun Wei, Sihan Yang, Zeliang Huang, Chuang Li, Xiang Yu, Ruxin Qi, Wujun Liu, Juan J. Loor, Mengzhi Wang, Xin Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Precision dietary interventions (e.g., altering proportions of dietary protein fractions) has significant implications for the efficiency of nutrient use in ruminants, as well as lowering their environmental footprint, specifically nitrogen (N) emissions. Soluble protein (SP) is defined as the protein fraction that is rapidly degraded in the rumen (e.g., non-protein N and true protein), and our previous study found that regulating SP levels could improve N efficiency in Hu sheep. Thus, the present study was conducted to explore in vitro how protein fractions with different SP levels modulate the rumen microbial community and its association with N metabolism. Four dietary treatments with different SP proportions and similar crude protein (CP) content (~14%) were formulated (% of CP): 20 (S20), 30 (S30), 40 (S40) and 50 (S50). Results showed that NH3-N content increased with increasing SP levels at 4, 12 and 24 h; TVFA, acetate, propionate and valerate were higher in S30 and S40 (p < 0.05) and had quadratic effects (p < 0.05). Moreover, dry matter digestibility (DMD) and N digestibility (ND) were all decreased with S20 and S50 (p < 0.05). The S30 and S40 treatments increased the abundance of Bacteroidetes and Prevotella (Prevotella_ruminicola) but decreased the abundance of Firmicutes and Proteobacteria (p < 0.05). Bacterial pathways related to amino acid and fatty acid metabolism also were enriched with S30 and S40. The abundance of Entodinium was increased with S30 and S40 and had a positive correlation with Prevotella, and these two genera also played an important role in N metabolism and VFA synthesis of this study. In conclusion, bacterial and protozoal communities were altered by the level of SP (% of CP), with higher SP levels (~50% of CP) increasing the microbial diversity but being detrimental to rumen N metabolism.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • dietary interventions
  • ciliate protozoa
  • rumen bacteria
  • nitrogen metabolism
  • soluble protein


Dive into the research topics of 'Regulation of Dietary Protein Solubility Improves Ruminal Nitrogen Metabolism In Vitro: Role of Bacteria–Protozoa Interactions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this