On the Occasion of the "International Conference on the Molecular Biology and Biotechnology of Ciliates and Anaerobic Protozoa in connection with the 22nd Annual meeting of the German Society for Protozoology" (March 4-8, 2003, Nijmegen, The Netherlands)
The rumen microbial ecosystem is composed of bacteria (concentration 1010 ml-1 in rumen digesta), protozoa (106 ml-1) and fungi (103 ml-1). Protozoal cell volume exceeds 103 to 106 times the volume of a bacterial cell, and this difference in size explains why protozoa account for half of the total rumen microbial biomass although they are much less numerous. A large species diversity has been described in each microbial taxon, for the protozoa in more detail. Such a biodiversity accounts not only for the efficiency of the rumen microbial community in the digestion of the feedstuff consumed by ruminants, but also for a number of additional functions that will be discussed in this contribution. Due to its position at the beginning of the digestive tract, the rumen microbial populations, and rumen protozoa in particular, have a strategic impact on the bioconversion of the feed and on ruminant nutrition. About 70% of the digestion takes place in the reticulo-rumen compartment, and around 40% of the digestion in the rumen depends on protozoa.
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