Influence of foliage from African multipurpose trees on activity of rumen protozoa and bacteria

C J Newbold, S M el Hassan, J Wang, M E Ortega, R J Wallace

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193 Citations (Scopus)


Samples and extracts of foliage from African multipurpose trees were screened for their effects on rumen protozoa and bacteria with a view to predicting their safety as feed supplements and for identifying species with potential antiprotozoal activity. The species tested were Acacia aneura, Chamaecytisus palmensis, Brachychiton populneum, Flindersia maculosa, Sesbania sesban, Leucaena leucocephala and Vernonia amyedalina. Antimicrobial effects were mild except for S. sesban, which was highly toxic to rumen protozoa in vitro, and A. aneura, which was toxic to rumen bacteria. The antiprotozoal factor in S. sesban was apparently associated with the fraction of the plant containing saponins. When S. sesban was fed to sheep, protozoal numbers fell by 60% after 4 d, but the population recovered after a further 10 d. In vitro experiments demonstrated that washed protozoa from later times were no more resistant to S. sesban than on initial exposure, suggesting that other micro-organisms, probably the bacteria, adapted to detoxify the antiprotozoal agent. Thus S. sesban may be useful in suppressing protozoa and thereby improving protein flow from the rumen, but only if the bacterial metabolism of the antiprotozoal factor can be avoided.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-49
Number of pages13
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Issue number2
Publication statusPrint publication - Aug 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Africa
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents/administration & dosage
  • Antiprotozoal Agents/administration & dosage
  • Bacteria/growth & development
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Eukaryota/growth & development
  • Rumen/microbiology
  • Sheep/microbiology
  • Trees


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