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The effects of inulin and alginate on intestinal microbial ecophysiology were investigated in piglets fed a diet (C) with 0.1% alginate (C+A) or 1.5% inulin (C+I) from weaning at day 28. The experiment was performed at an experimental farm (EF) and a commercial farm (CF). Digesta was collected from the ileum, caecum and colon of four piglets from each group on days 29, 30, 33 and 39. The metabolite concentrations changed with age. Colonic and caecal metabolites were affected by prebiotic treatment. Changes in microbiota composition were assessed by cultivation and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) of 16S rRNA gene fragments. Enterococci increased in C+A at EF and decreased in C+I at both farms. Lactobacilli decreased in all segments in the experimental groups on days 30 and 33. Yeasts in C+I were five times lower at CF than at EF on day 39. The richness and diversity of DGGE profiles increased in the experimental groups. The evenness of colon digesta-derived DGGE profiles was higher in the experimental groups than in C and this situation was reversed in the distal small intestine. Multivariate redundancy analysis confirmed the recorded effects. In summary, both prebiotics affected the intestinal microbiota, and the changes were more pronounced at the CF.