Saliva and salivary components affect goat rumen fermentation in short-term batch incubations

J. M. Palma-Hidalgo, A. Belanche, E. Jiménez, A. I. Martín-García, C. J. Newbold, D. R. Yáñez-Ruiz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalShort communication peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
23 Downloads (Pure)


The research about the role of saliva in ruminants has been mainly focused on its buffering capacity together with facilitation of the rumination process. However, the role of salivary bioactive components on modulating the activity of the rumen microbiota has been neglected until recently. This study developed an in vitro approach to assess the impact of different components in saliva on rumen microbial fermentation. Four different salivary fractions were prepared from four goats: (i) non-filtrated saliva (NFS), (ii) filtrated through 0.25 µm to remove microorganisms and large particles (FS1), (iii) centrifuged through a 30 kDa filter to remove large proteins, (FS2), and (iv) autoclaved saliva (AS) to keep only the minerals. Two experiments were conducted in 24 h batch culture incubations with 6 ml of total volume consisting of 2 ml of rumen fluid and 4 ml of saliva/buffer mix. In Experiment 1, the effect of increasing the proportion of saliva (either NFS or FS1) in the solution (0%, 16%, 33% and 50% of the total volume) was evaluated. Treatment FS1 promoted greater total volatile fatty acids (VFA) (+8.4%) and butyrate molar proportion (+2.8%) but lower NH3-N concentrations than NFS fraction. Replacing the bicarbonate buffer solution by increasing proportions of saliva resulted in higher NH3-N, total VFA (+8.0%) and propionate molar proportion (+11%). Experiment 2 addressed the effect of the different fractions of saliva (NFS, FS1, FS2 and AS). Saliva fractions led to higher total VFA and NH3-N concentrations than non-saliva incubations, which suggests that the presence of some salivary elements enhanced rumen microbial activity. Fraction FS1 promoted a higher concentration of total VFA (+7.8%) than the other three fractions, and higher propionate (+26%) than NFS and AS. This agrees with findings from Experiment 1 and supports that ‘microbe-free saliva’, in which large salivary proteins are maintained, boosts rumen fermentation. Our results show the usefulness of this in vitro approach and suggest that different salivary components can modulate rumen microbial fermentation, although the specific metabolites and effects they cause need further research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100267
Issue number7
Early online date5 Jun 2021
Publication statusPrint publication - Jul 2021


  • Immunoglobulin
  • In vitro fermentation
  • Microbial immune modulation
  • Rumen microbiome
  • Salivary proteins


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