The effect of rumen chitinolytic bacteria on cellulolytic anaerobic fungi

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The polycentric anaerobic fungus Orpinomyces joyonii A4 was cultivated on microcrystalline cellulose alone and in association with the rumen chitinolytic bacterium Clostridium sp. strain ChK5, which shows strong phenotypic similarity to Clostridium tertium. The presence of strain ChK5 significantly depressed the solubilization of microcrystalline cellulose, the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) and the release of endoglucanase by the fungus. Co-culture of the monocentric anaerobic fungus Neocallimastix frontalis strain RE1, Neocallimastix sp. strain G-1 and Caecomyces sp. strain SC2 with strain ChK5 also resulted in depressed fungal cellulolysis. Cell-free supernatant fluids from strain ChK5 inhibited the release of reducing sugars from carboxymethylcellulose by cell-free supernatant fluids from O. joyonii strain A4. Strain 007 of the cellulolytic anaerobe Ruminococcus flavefaciens was also shown to produce small amounts of soluble products upon incubation with colloidal chitin. Mixtures of culture supernates from this bacterium and from O. joyonii strain A4 showed cellulase activity that was less than that of the component cultures. It is suggested that the ability of some rumen bacteria to hydrolyse or transform chitin may be an important factor in the interactions between bacteria and fungi in the rumen.

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