Evaluation of a real-time PCR assay quantifying the ruminal pool size and duodenal flow of protozoal nitrogen

J T Sylvester, S K R Karnati, Z Yu, C J Newbold, J L Firkins

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72 Citations (Scopus)


We have recently developed a real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay to quantify copies of the genes encoding protozoal 18S rRNA. The assay includes procedures for isolating and concentrating protozoal cells from the rumen for use as a standard to convert 18S rRNA gene copies to a biomass basis. The current objectives were to 1) determine the degree of reduction of bacterial contamination in the protozoal standard, 2) determine if protozoal standards derived from ruminal fluid are appropriate for predicting duodenal flows, and 3) evaluate the assay's determined values for protozoal N in the rumen and flowing to the duodenum compared with independent measurements. Our protozoal collection method reduced non-associated bacterial contamination by 33-fold, the contamination of which could otherwise significantly bias RNA (microbial marker) and N percentages of concentrated protozoal fractions. Based on denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis, the use of protozoal cells isolated from ruminal fluid appears appropriate for use in quantitative assays determining protozoal N flow postruminally. Using real-time PCR, protozoal N was determined to be 4.8 and 12.7% of the rumen microbial N pool and 5.9 and 11.9% of the duodenal flow of microbial N on diets containing low (16%) or high (21%) forage neutral detergent fiber, respectively, which were comparable with independent measures and expectations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2083-95
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPrint publication - Jun 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Diet
  • Dietary Fiber/administration & dosage
  • Digestion
  • Duodenum/metabolism
  • Eukaryota/isolation & purification
  • Female
  • Nitrogen/analysis
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction/methods
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S/genetics
  • Rumen/chemistry


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