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In vitro degradability of mature and immature leaves of tropical forage legumes differing in condensed tannin and non-starch polysaccharide content and composition

Barahona, Rolando, Lascano, Carlos E., Narvaez, Nelmy, Owen, Emir, Morris, Phillip, Theodorou, Mike K.
Journal of the science of food and agriculture 2003 v.83 no.12 pp. 1256-1266
Calliandra calothyrsus, Clitoria, Desmodium, Flemingia macrophylla, Leucaena leucocephala, Leucaena pallida, branched chain fatty acids, carbohydrate content, cell walls, forage legumes, leaves, legumes, linear models, nitrogen content, nutrient content, nutritive value, proanthocyanidins, propionic acid, regression analysis, uronic acids
A study was designed to examine the relationships between protein, condensed tannin and cell wall carbohydrate content and composition and the nutritional quality of seven tropical legumes (Desmodium ovalifolium, Flemingia macrophylla, Leucaena leucocephala, L pallida, L macrophylla, Calliandra calothyrsus and Clitoria fairchildiana). Among the legume species studied, D ovalifolium showed the lowest concentration of nitrogen, while L leucocephala showed the highest. Fibre (NDF) content was lowest in C calothyrsus, L Leucocephala and Lpallida and highest in L macrophylla, which had no measurable condensed tannins. The highest tannin concentration was found in C calothyrsus. Total non-structural polysaccharides (NSP) varied among legumes species (lowest in C calothyrsus and highest in D ovalifolium), and glucose and uronic acids were the most abundant carbohydrate constituents in all legumes. Total NSP losses were lowest in F macrophylla and highest in L leucocephala and L pallida. Gas accumulation and acetate and propionate levels were 50% less with F macrophylla and D ovalifolium as compared with L leucocephala. The highest levels of branched-chain fatty acids were observed with non-tanniniferous legumes, and negative concentrations were observed with some of the legumes with high tannin content (D ovalifolium and F macrophylla). Linear regression analysis showed that the presence of condensed tannins was more related to a reduction of the initial rate of gas production (0-48 h) than to the final amount of gas produced or the extent (144 h) of dry matter degradation, which could be due to differences in tannin chemistry. Consequently, more attention should be given in the future to elucidating the impact of tannin structure on the nutritional quality of tropical forage legumes.