초록 close

Although gut microbial functions have been analyzed through cultivation of isolated microbes, molecular analysis without cultivation is becoming a popular approach in recent years. Gene cloning studies have partially revealed the mechanisms involved in fiber digestion of individual microbe. The molecular approach finally made it possible to analyze full genomes of the representative rumen cellulolytic bacteria Fibrobacter and Ruminococcus. The coming database may contain useful information such as regulation of gene expression relating to fiber digestion. Meanwhile, unculturable bacteria are still poorly characterized, even though they are main constituents of gut microbial ecosystem. The molecular analysis is essential to initiating the studies on these unculturable bacteria. The studies dealing with rumen and large intestine are revealing considerable complexity of the microbial ecosystems with many undescribed bacteria. These bacteria are being highlighted as possibly functional members contributing to feed digestion. Manipulation of gut bacteria and gut ecology for improving animal production is still at challenging stage. Bacteria newly introduced in the rumen, whether they are genetically modified or not, suffer from poor survival. In one of these attempts, Butyrivibrio fibrisolvens expressing a foreign dehalogenase was successfully established in sheep rumen to prevent fluoroacetate poisoning. This expands choice of forages in tropics, since many tropic plants are known to contain the toxic fluoroacetate. This example may promise the possible application of molecular breeding of gut bacteria to the host animals with significance in their health and nutrition. When inoculation strategies for such foreign bacteria are considered, it is obvious that we should have more detailed information of the gut microbial ecology.