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Bacterial population dynamics during the ensiling of Medicago sativa (alfalfa) and subsequent exposure to air

McGarvey, J. A., Franco, R. B., Palumbo, J. D., Hnasko, R., Stanker, L., Mitloehner, F. M.
Journal of applied microbiology 2013 v.114 no.6 pp. 1661
DNA libraries, Enterobacter, Erwinia, Lactobacillus, Lactococcus, Medicago sativa, Pantoea, Pediococcus, air, alfalfa, alfalfa silage, chemical analysis, lactic acid bacteria, nucleotide sequences, population dynamics, population structure, ribosomal RNA, sequence analysis, silage making
Aims To describe, at high resolution, the bacterial population dynamics and chemical transformations during the ensiling of alfalfa and subsequent exposure to air. Methods and Results Samples of alfalfa, ensiled alfalfa and silage exposed to air were collected and their bacterial population structures compared using 16S rRNA gene libraries containing approximately 1900 sequences each. Cultural and chemical analyses were also performed to complement the 16S gene sequence data. Sequence analysis revealed significant differences (P < 0·05) in the bacterial populations at each time point. The alfalfa-derived library contained mostly sequences associated with the Gammaproteobacteria (including the genera: Enterobacter, Erwinia and Pantoea); the ensiled material contained mostly sequences associated with the lactic acid bacteria (LAB) (including the genera: Lactobacillus, Pediococcus and Lactococcus). Exposure to air resulted in even greater percentages of LAB, especially among the genus Lactobacillus, and a significant drop in bacterial diversity. Conclusions In-depth 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis revealed significant bacterial population structure changes during ensiling and again during exposure to air. Significance and Impact of the Study Significance and Impact of the Study: This in-depth description of the bacterial population dynamics that occurred during ensiling and simulated feed out expands our knowledge of these processes.