Methane production and fatty acids (FA) biohydrogenation in the rumen are two main constraints in ruminant production causing environmental burden and reducing food product quality. Rumen functions can be modulated by the biologically active compounds (BACs) of plant origins as shown in several studies e.g. reduction in methane emission, modulation of FA composition with positive impact on the ruminant products. Coleus amboinicus Lour. (CAL) contains high concentration of polyphenols that may potentially reduce methane production and modulate ruminal biohydrogenation of unsaturated FA.
This study aimed to investigate the effect of BAC of Coleus amboinicus Lour. (CAL) fed to growing lambs on ruminal methane production, biohydrogenation of unsaturated FA and meat characteristics. In this study, the in vitro experiment aiming at determining the most effective CAL dose for in vivo experiments was followed by two in vivo experiments in rumen-cannulated rams and growing lambs. Experiment 1 (RUSITEC) comprised of control and three experimental diets differing in CAL content (10%, 15%, and 20% of the total diet). The two in vivo experiments were conducted on six growing, rumen-cannulated lambs (Exp. 2) and 16 growing lambs (Exp. 3). Animals were assigned into the control (CON) and experimental (20% of CAL) groups. Several parameters were examined in vitro (pH, ammonia and VFA concentrations, protozoa, methanogens and select bacteria populations) and in vivo (methane production, digestibility, ruminal microorganism populations, meat quality, fatty acids profiles in rumen fluid and meat, transcript expression of 5 genes in meat).
CAL lowered in vitro methane production by 51%. In the in vivo Exp. 3, CAL decreased methane production by 20% compared with the CON group, which corresponded to reduction of total methanogen counts by up to 28% in all experiments, notably Methanobacteriales. In Exp. 3, CAL increased or tended to increase populations of some rumen bacteria (Ruminococcus albus, Megasphaera elsdenii, Butyrivibrio proteoclasticus, and Butyrivibrio fibrisolvens). Dietary CAL suppressed the Holotricha population, but increased or tended to increase Entodiniomorpha population in vivo. An increase in the polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) proportion in the rumen of lambs was noted in response to the CAL diet, which was mainly attributable to the increase in C18:3 cis-9 cis-12 cis-15 (LNA) proportion. CAL reduced the mRNA expression of four out of five genes investigated in meat (fatty acid synthase, stearoyl-CoA desaturase, lipoprotein lipase, and fatty acid desaturase 1).
Summarizing, polyphenols of CAL origin (20% in diet) mitigated ruminal methane production by inhibiting the methanogen communities. CAL supplementation also improved ruminal environment by modulating ruminal bacteria involved in fermentation and biohydrogenation of FA. Besides, CAL elevated the LNA concentration, which improved meat quality through increased deposition of n-3 PUFA.