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Ciencia e investigación agraria

versión On-line ISSN 0718-1620

Cienc. Inv. Agr. vol.42 no.1 Santiago abr. 2015

http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0718-16202015000100005 

ANIMAL PRODUCTION / RESEARCH PAPER

 

Improvement in nutritional quality of fibrous food via in vitro digestion by Aspergillus niger

Mejoramiento de la calidad nutritiva de alimentos fibrosos a través de la digestión in vitro con Aspergillus niger

 

Alejandro Velásquez1,2, Pierre-Guy Marnet3, and Rodrigo Arias4

1 Área de Producción Animal, Escuela de Agronomía, Facultad de Recursos Naturales.
2
Núcleo de Investigación en Producción Alimentaria. Universidad Católica de Temuco. Rudecindo Ortega 02950.
Temuco, Chile.
3 Département Productions Animales, Agroalimentaire, Nutrition (P3AN). UMR INRA-Agrocampus Ouest 1348, Rennes, France.
4 Instituto de Producción Animal, Universidad Austral de Chile. Independencia 641, Valdivia, Chile.
Corresponding author: avelasquez@uct.cl


Abstract

In a first experiment, the effect of in vitro incubation with Aspergillus niger (An) on the chemical composition of different fibrous substrates was studied. In a second experiment, the effect of incubation time (0,72 and 144 h) on in vitro digestion with An of dry matter (IVDMD), neutral detergent fiber (DVNDF) and acid detergent fiber (DVADF) was evaluated for different substrates. Wheat straw, WS; barley straw, BS; oat hulls, OH; dehydrated alfalfa, DA; and dehydrated ryegrass, DB substrates were evaluated. In both experiments, incubations were performed in 250 mL Erlenmeyer flasks; 2 g of substrate was added to a culture medium (pH = 6), and incubated at 28 °C with constant ventilation. The An dose consisted of 3 mL of a solution of 5.3 χ 106 spores mL-1 per flask. Incubation time for the first experiment was 144 h. After incubation, the contents of the flasks were homogenized in a blender for one minute. Subsequently, bromatological analysis was conducted without separating the An biomass. No interaction effects among any studied variables were observed. An incubation effected cell wall (NDF) and lignocellulose (ADF) content. An increase in true protein (TP) and soluble nitrogen (SN) was observed for all substrates tested, but responses differed depending on the type of substrate. The largest increases in TP were observed in DA and DB substrates (0.55 and 0.63% DM, respectively). IVDMD, DVNDF and DVADF were affected by the type of substrate and incubation time. The highest value of IVDMD144 was observed in the DAAn treatment (49.47% DM), followed by the DBAn treatment, with a value of 45.51% DM. OHAn showed the lowest value of IVDMD144 (29.38% DM). The results suggest that An possesses fibrolytic and metabolic potential for improving the nutritional value of fibrous foods through of the digestion of structural carbohydrates and the liberation of nitrogenous fractions embedded in cell walls, producing a change in the chemical composition and the potential digestibility of treated foods.

Key words: Aspergillus niger, fibrous substrates, in vitro digestion, nutritional quality.


Resumen

En un primer ensayo se estudió el efecto de la incubación in vitro con Aspergillus niger (An) y el tipo de sustrato sobre la composición química de alimentos fibrosos. En un segundo ensayo se evaluó el efecto del tipo de sustrato y el tiempo de incubación (0,72 y 144 h) sobre la digestión in vitro con An de la materia seca (IVDMD), fibra detergente neutro (DVNDF) y fibra detergente ácida (DVADF). Se evaluaron los sustratos paja de trigo: WS, paja de cebada: BS, cascara de avena: OH, alfalfa deshidratada: DA y ballica deshidratada: DB. Para ambos experimentos las incubaciones se realizaron en matraces Erlenmeyer de 250 mL; la masa de sustrato a incubar fue de 2 g, adicionados a un medio de cultivo (pH=6), incubado con sistema de ventilación constante a temperatura de 28 °C. La dosis de An consistió en 3 mL frasco-1 de una solución de 5,3 χ 106 esporas mL-1. El tiempo de incubación para el primer ensayo fue de 144 h. Transcurrido este tiempo, se procedió a homogenizar (Blender) el contenido total de los matraces por un minuto. Posteriormente, se realizó un análisis bromatológico a la masa total incubada, sin separar la biomasa de An. No se observó efecto de la interacción en ninguna de las variables estudiadas. La incubación con An mostró un efecto sobre el contenido de paredes celulares (FDN) y las fracciones lignocelulósicas (FDA). Se observó un incremento en la Proteína Verdadera (TP) y en el Nitrógeno Soluble (SN) en todos los sustratos evaluados, y su respuesta fue diferente según el tipo de sustrato. Los mayores incrementos en TP se observaron en los sustratos DA y DB (0,55 y 0,63% DM, respectivamente). IVDMD, DVNDF y DVADF se vieron afectadas por el tipo de sustrato y el tiempo de incubación. El valor más alto de IVDMD144 se observó en el tratamiento DAAn (49,47% DM), seguido de DBAn, con un valor de 45,51% DM. OHAn mostró el valor más bajo de IVDMD144 (29,38% DM). Los resultados permitieron inferir que An posee el potencial fibrolítico y metabólico para mejorar el valor nutritivo de alimentos fibrosos, a través de la digestión de los carbohidratos estructurales y liberación de fracciones nitrogenadas incrustadas en las paredes celulares, implicando un cambio en la composición química y en la digestibilidad potencial de los alimentos tratados.

Palabras clave: Aspergillus niger, calidad nutricional, digestión in vitro, sustratos fibrosos.


 

Introduction

High cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin content of fibrous foods are among the major factors responsible for the low nutritional values observed in livestock feed. This is not only because of the chemical composition of fibrous foods but also because of their low digestive potential in the animal's gastrointestinal system. These foods, under a biotechnology program using saprophytic fungi, could be modified to improve their nutritional quality by decreasing the cell wall content via digestion, and also by increasing nutrients obtained from the biomass of the microorganism growing on the incubated substrate (Kuhad et al., 1997; Shrivastava et al., 2012). Wheat straw (WS) and barley straw (BS) are important agricultural residues in the La Araucanía region and are usually burned or discarded. Furthermore, oat hulls (OH), an agro-industrial by-product, are also generated in significant quantities in this region of Chile. These fibrous foods have the potential to be used as animal feed, preferably in ruminants. However, the nutritional value of these foods is low, even for ruminants, due to their high lignocellulosic fractions and low crude protein (CP), thus limiting their use as dietary ingredients (Nagarajan, 2005; Arora et al., 2011). Indeed, bromatological measurements on WS and OH performed in our laboratory yielded values of 86.9% and 76% neutral detergent fiber (NDF), 55.6% and 42% acid detergent fiber (FDA), and 4.1% and 4.6% CP, respectively (Velásquez and Arias, 2013). Sarkar et al. (2012), in Pensupa et al. (2013), found WS to contain 35-45% cellulose, 20-30% hemicellulose, 8-15% lignin, 3.1% protein and 10.1% ash. The low digestibility of lignocellulosic fractions is due to lignin-covered polysaccharide microfibers, structured in a compact, crystalline, heterogeneous complex, where the lignin protects the polysaccharides against action by hydrolytic enzymes and other external factors, in addition to stabilizing the complex (Leonowicz et al., 1999; Villas-Boas et al., 2002). The high lignocellulosic content present in these agricultural residues and agro-industrial by-products inhibits the enzymatic action of the microbial community in the rumen, resulting in minimal degradation of organic matter, and consequently reduced availability of energy and nitrogen for the ruminal ecosystem (Sahoo et al., 2002; Shrivastava et al., 2012). Various techniques have been applied to improve the nutritional value of these fibrous foods, including physical, chemical and biological treatments (Liu et al., 1999; Tuyen et al., 2012). The biological methods include those based on the use of hydrolytic enzymes and microorganisms, particularly saprophytic fungi with fibrolytic potential (Zafar et al., 1996; Kuhad et al., 1997; Rodrigues et al., 2008; Gaitán-Hernández et al., 2011). These biological methods can improve the nutritional quality of fibrous foods by increasing true protein (TP) content (Velásquez et al, 2012), and improve digestibility by decreasing cell wall content (Kuhad et al., 1997; Villas-Boas et al., 2002). The advantage of biological methods for improving the nutritional quality of these foods over physical and chemical techniques is their low environmental impact, which generate little pollution and require little energy for their application (Basu et al., 2002; Shrivastava et al., 2012). Aspergillus niger (An) is a saprophytic fungus with potent fibrolytic activity, belonging to the phylum Ascomycota, class Ascomycetes, order Eurotiales and family Trichocomaceae. This enzymatic ability to digest cell walls, along with starches, simple sugars and proteins, make it a suitable fungus to grow on fibrous substrates (Hernández-Díaz et al, 2010; Rajesh et al, 2010). These filamentous fungi are naturally adapted for growth on plant surfaces, which they use as support for the development of aerial mycelia and reproductive structures. This close contact with the substrate stimulates secretion of the hydrolytic enzymes responsible for extracellular digestion (Jones, 1994). Among the reported hydrolytic enzymes that can be synthesized by An are cellulases, exo-ß-1,4-mannosidase, endo-α-1.5 -arabinase, α-l-arabinofuranosidase, endogalactanase, feruloyl esterase (Park et al, 2002; Howard et al, 2003; Sánchez, 2009), glucoamylase, xylanases, endo-ß-1.4-glucanase and exo-ß-1.4-glucanase (Kang et al, 2004; Pensupa et al, 2013). Considering this powerful pool of fibrolytic enzymes, An could degrade most fibrous substrates, using the carbon skeletons and energy generation to fuel reproduction and growth. Consequently, the first objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of in vitro incubation of different substrates with An on the chemical composition of fibrous foods. The second objective was to study the effect of substrate type and incubation time on in vitro digestion of dry matter, neutral detergent fiber and acid detergent fiber by An.

Materials and methods

Experiment 1: Effect of in vitro incubation with Aspergillus niger on the chemical composition of fibrous substrates

An strains (ATCC-1015) were provided by the veterinary medicine school's microbiology laboratory (Catholic University of Temuco). An strains were seeded in Petri dishes with a potato dextrose agar culture medium, then dried in a forced air oven (Arquimed WTB Binder) at 26 °C for 4 days, and cooled and held at 4 °C until incubation. Incubations were performed in 250 mL Erlenmeyer flasks fitted with a glass and rubber stopper to ensure aerobic conditions during incubation (Robinson and Nigam, 2003; Velásquez and Arias, 2013). The flasks were sterilized with alcohol (98%) and UV radiation (Laminar Flow Cabinet: Streamline SHC-4A1) for 30 min. Two grams of substrate were added to a culture medium consisting of 8 mL of 50 mM Tris buffer (pH = 6), 2 mL of streptomycin antibiotic (0.1% w/v) and 2 mL of urea 1% (w/v). Urea was added to ensure that nitrogen was not a limiting factor for An metabolism. The dose of An (inoculum) per flask consisted of 3 mL of a solution with 5.3 × 106 spores mL-1 (determined by hemocytometer). This dose established a substrate-limiting kinetic condition, which was determined by preliminary experiments in our laboratory. Basal input of An to the culture medium was corrected by inoculum incubation in inert material, without organic substrate (Velásquez et al., 2012). The incubation time was 144 h under continuous ventilation (28 °C). After incubation, we homogenized the total contents of the flask in a blender for one minute. Subsequently, bromatological analysis was conducted on the total mass incubated, without separating the An biomass.

Collection and preparation of fibrous substrates

Triticum aestivum (wheat straw, WS), Hordeum vulgare (barley straw, BS), Avena sativa (oat hulls, OH), Medicago sativa (dehydrated alfalfa, DA) and Lollium perenne (dehydrated ryegrass, DB) were evaluated. Ten subsamples (0.5 kg) of each substrate were collected and were subsequently mixed. WS and BS were obtained from crop stubble randomly selected from within La Araucanía Region. OH was a by-product of the industrial processing of oats for human and animal consumption; samples were also randomly selected from La Araucanía Region agro-industries. DA and DB were cut before flowering from pastures established within the IX region (first cut), and then were processed in the laboratory. During collection, all samples were visually inspected for structural damage and contaminants; any impurities in vegetable materials were removed. In addition, substrates were checked for the presence of phytopathogenic agents by visual inspection, and also by microscopic examination in the laboratory. Similarly, OH was inspected for contaminating microbial agents and purity (visually and microscopically). All substrates (subsamples combined) were washed with distilled water for 20 minutes, then autoclaved in 250 mL flasks at 121 °C for 15 min, and finally dried in an oven at 60 °C for 48 h. Subsequently, samples were chopped (size range 0.2-0.5 cm). Later, all substrates were subjected to chemical composition analysis.

Chemical composition of fibrous substrates and generated biomass

Bromatological analysis was performed on fibrous substrates (Table 1) and post-incubation biomass (experiments 1 and 2). AOAC (1990) methods were used to determine dry matter (DM, official method 934.01), ash (official method 942.05) and N (official method 984.13) content. Neutral detergent fiber (NDF) and acid detergent fiber (ADF) were determined by the method of Van Soest et al. (1991). Fibrous fractions were determined with alpha amylase; these were expressed exclusive of residual ash. True protein (TP) was determined from buffer-insoluble N, and the fraction of trichloroacetic acid (TCA)-insoluble N to buffer-soluble N. Soluble N (SN) was measured by vacuum filtration (Whatman paper N°41) using the Kjeldahl method (AOAC, 1990). Insoluble N in neutral detergent fiber (NDIN) and insoluble N in acid detergent fiber (ADIN) were determined by measuring Kjeldahl N in the fiber residues.

 

Table 1. Chemical composition of fibrous substrates.

1WS: wheat straw, BS: barley straw, OH: oats hull, DA: dehydrated alfalfa, DB: dehydrated ballica.
2DM: dry matter, CP: crude protein.
3NDF: neutral detergent fiber, ADF: acid detergent fiber.
4TP: true protein, SN: N soluble fraction.
5NDIN: insoluble N in neutral detergent, ADIN: insoluble N in acid detergent.
6
Each value
represents the chemical assay of three samples.

 

Experiment 2: Effect of incubation time on the dry matter, neutral detergent fiber and acid detergent fiber digestion of different substrates digested with Aspergillus niger (An)

Using the same incubation protocol as the first experiment, a second trial measured the effect of substrate type and incubation time (0,72 and 144 h) on the dry matter (IVDMD), NDF (DVNDF) and ADF (DVADF) digestion of fibrous foods digested with An (in vitro). Preliminary experiments in our laboratory (unpublished) showed an asymptotic time of DM digestion of approximately 120 h; however, the levels of digestion for shorter periods of time are unknown. Separate experimental setups were used for each incubation time. The inoculum dose ensured a substrate-limiting condition, sufficient to evaluate the susceptibility of the substrate to enzymatic digestion. After 72 h and 144 h, the flasks were withdrawn from the stove and 10 mL of cold water (7 °C) was added to each flask to stop An enzymatic activity. The contents of the flasks were subsequently filtered using Whatman filter paper (N° 41) in a vacuum funnel; mass balance was performed after bromatological analysis of the undigested residue to determine IVDMD, DVNDF and DVADF. Values from each treatment were corrected using the respective blanks, which consisted of substrates incubated without An.

Statistical analysis

For both tests, the experimental design was completely randomized, with factorial arrangement, 2×5 and 5×3, for experiments 1 and 2, respectively. For experiment 1, the first factor corresponded to incubation with and without An, and the second corresponded to the 5 types of fibrous substrates. For experiment 2, the first factor corresponded to the 5 types of substrate, and the second factor corresponded to the three incubation times (0,72 and 144 h). The general statistical model for both experiments was Υijk=μ+αi+βj+(αβ)ij+ eijk, where Yijk = the observed value (chemical composition, IVDMD, DVNDF and DVADF); μ = the generalized mean; αi = the effect of the ith level of factor α; βj= the effect of the jth level of factor β; (αβ)ij = the interaction between the ith level of factor α and the jth level of factor β; eijk = the experimental error. Each experiment was repeated three times in duplicate. The normality of the data was verified using the Shapiro-Wilk procedure (P>0.05). Levene's statistic was used to test for homogeneity of variance (P>0.05). In both experiments, the experimental unit was a matrass (250 mL) with its respective incubation. The results were subjected to an ANOVA with a significance level of 5%, with an analysis of interaction and main effects. Treatment means were compared using Tukey's method (5% significance). Statistical analysis was performed with JMP® software (version 5.0.1.2, SAS Inc., Cary, NC, 2003).

Results

Experiment 1: Effect of in vitro incubation with Aspergillus niger on the chemical composition of fibrous substrates

No interaction effect was observed among any of the studied variables (P=0.28-P=0.37). Incubation with An affected the amount of NDF (P0.001), ADF (P0.001), TP (P0.01), SN (P0.01), NDIN (P0.05) and ADIN (P0.05). Additionally, chemical composition was affected by the type of substrate (P0.0001-P0.01) (Table 2). The greatest reduction in NDF (P0.05) was observed with the substrate BS (24.68% DM), and the smallest reduction was observed (P0.05) with the substrate DA (15.56% DM). The average decrease in NDF across all substrates was 20.86% DM. The greatest decrease in ADF (P0.05) was observed in OH (8.53% DM), and the smallest decrease was observed (P0.05) in DA (4.73% DM). The average decrease in ADF was 6.71% DM for all substrates. However, the greatest increases in TP (P0.05) were observed in the substrates DA and DB (0.55% and 0.63% DM, respectively). WS, BS and OH substrates showed an average increase of 0.32% DM and were not different from one another (P>0.05). These changes suggest a possible increase in An biomass as a by-product of digestion and growth on the fibrous substrates, with a consequent increase in protein synthesis.

 

Table 2. Effect of in vitro incubation with Aspergillus niger (An) and type of substrate on
the chemical composition of fibrous foods (WS: wheat straw, BS: barley straw, OH: oats
hull, DA: dehydrated alfalfa and DB: dehydrated ballica). Experiment 1.

Different letters within a column indicate significant differences between treatments with/
without An (P
0.05).
1
WSAn: wheat straw with Aspergillus niger (An), WSs: wheat straw without An, BSAn: barley
straw with An, BSs: barley straw without An, OHAn: oats hull with An, OHs: oats hull without
An, DAAn: dehydrated alfalfa with An, DAs: dehydrated alfalfa without An, DBAn: dehydrated
ballica with An, DBs: dehydrated ballica without An.
2
NDF: neutral detergent fiber, ADF: acid detergent fiber.
3
CP: crude protein, TP: true protein, SN: N soluble fraction.
4
NDIN: insoluble N in neutral detergent, ADIN: insoluble N in acid detergent.
5
Each value represents incubation assays for three repetitions with duplication.
Different letters within a column indicate significant differences (P<0.05).

 

Furthermore, DA showed the greatest increase in solubility of nitrogenous compounds, increasing SN 12.11% CP, whereas DB showed the smallest increase in SN (6.84% CP). On average, across all substrates, SN increased by 9.69% CP. For N associated with cell walls (NDIN), WS showed the greatest decrease (P0.05), with a value of 4.57% CP; there was no difference in NDIN among the rest of the substrates, which exhibited an average decrease of 4.04% CP. For N insoluble in acid detergent fiber (ADIN), BS substrate showed the greatest decrease (P0.05), yielding a value of 3.19% CP. The smallest decrease in ADIN (P0.05) was in DB (1.46% CP). Although proteolytic activity of An was not measured directly in this study, the decreased the levels of NDIN and ADIN, and increased solubility of nitrogen compounds (SN), suggest some proteolytic activity by An, corroborating the proteolytic potential observed in other assays developed in our laboratory, and in the laboratories of others.

Experiment 2: Effect of incubation time on the dry matter, neutral detergent fiber and acid detergent fiber digestion of different substrates digested with Aspergillus niger (An)

The results of the experiment on time of incubation and in vitro digestion of DM (IVDMD), NDF (DVNDF) and ADF (DVADF) in different substrates by An are presented in Table 3. First, the statistical analysis indicated that there was no interaction effect among any of the parameters studied (P=0.28-P=0.46). The results revealed that IVDMD72 and IVDMD144 were affected by the type of substrate (P0.001 and P0.001, respectively). The greatest value of IVDMD144 (P0.05) was observed in the treatment DAAn (49.47% DM), followed by the treatment DBAn (45.51°% DM). IVDMD144 did not differ between WSAn and BSAn (P>0.05), and averaged 33.77% DM. OHAn had the lowest level (P0.05) of IVDMD144 (29.38% DM). DVNDF72 and DVNDF144 were both affected by the type of substrate (P0.001 and P0.001), and there were differences between them in all substrates tested (P0.01), showing the influence of the incubation time; there was no interaction between incubation time and substrate type. The highest value for DVNDF144 (P0.05) was observed in the DAAn treatment (36.76% NDF), followed by the DBAn treatment (32.8% NDF). WSAn and BSAn did not differ (P>0.05) in DVNDF144, with an average of 28.57% NDF. The lowest value for DVNDF144 (P0.05) was observed in the OHAn treatment (25% NDF). Moreover, DVADF72 and DVADF144 were affected by substrate type (P0.01 and P0.01, respectively). Similarly, incubation time affected the amount of the lignocellulosic fraction digested in all substrates studied (P0.01). DAAn and DBAn treatments showed the highest values of DVADF144 (P0.05), with no differences between them (P>0.05); these treatments averaged 16.37% ADF. The DVADF144 of WSAn, BSAn and OHAn treatments were similar (P>0.05), with an average of 13.64% ADF. As seen in Table 3, in all substrates and parameters evaluated, the level of digestion was lower at 72 h of incubation than at 144 h incubation (P0.05). In general, these results suggest that the hydrolytic activity of An continues after 72 h incubation, peaking at 144 h.

 

Table 3. Effect of substrate type and incubation time on in vitro digestion with Aspergillus
niger
(An) of dry matter, neutral detergent fiber and acid detergent fiber1. Experiment 2.

Different letters within a column indicate significant differences (P0.05).
1IVDMD72: in vitro dry matter digestion at 72 h, IVDMD144: in vitro dry matter digestion at
144 h, DVNDF72: in vitro
neutral detergent fiber digestion at 72 h, DVNDF144: in vitro neutral
detergent fiber digestion at 144 h, DVADF72: in
vitro acid detergent fiber digestion at 72 h,
DVADF144: in vitro acid detergent fiber digestion at 144 h.
2WSAn: wheat straw with Aspergillus niger (An), BSAn: barley straw with An, OHAn: oats hull
with An, DAAn:
dehydrated alfalfa with An, DBAn: dehydrated ballica with An.
3Each value represents incubation assays for three repetitions with duplication.

 

Discussion

One of the primary findings of this research is the decrease in NDF and ADF content of the substrates tested, as a result of digestion by An under in vitro conditions. In effect, the decrease in NDF and ADF content, observed in all substrates studied (Table 2), would allow improved digestive potential, especially for WS, BS and OH substrates, because these could be included as ingredients in ruminant diets. This is possible due to the decrease in cell wall content, and in particular, the lignocellulosic fractions, which are the most resistant to the enzymatic action of microorganisms in the rumen (Sniffen et al, 1992; Colombatto et al, 2007). However, digestibility is the most appropriate parameter to describe substrate susceptibility to the enzymatic degradation system. Reviewing the levels of digestion (Table 3), it can be seen that degradation was generally higher with the DA and DB substrates (forage). The average value of those substrates was 34.78% for DVNDF144 and 16.37% for DVADF144 compared with WS, BS and OH substrates, which averaged 27.38% and 13.64%, respectively. This relationship was clearly associated with IVDMD144 values, given the original magnitude of fibrous fractions in the foods assessed (the correlation coefficient (r) between IVDMD144 and DVNDF144 was 0.979; and between IVDMD144 and DVADF144 was 0.972, across all substrates). In the case of treatments DAAn and DBAn, IVDMD144 values averaged 47.49%, whereas the WSAn, BSAn and OHAn treatments averaged 32.3%, suggesting that the DM of forage foods was more responsive to An hydrolytic enzymes (under in vitro conditions), resulting in a greater degree of degradation. This difference could be due to variation in the chemical composition of the substrates. The DA and DB forages had a lower initial level of NDF and ADF relative to WS, BS and OH substrates (Table 1). Most likely, the chemical structures in the WS, BS and OH cell walls were more lignified, and therefore possessed a more complex integration of lignin in the cellulosic matrix, making it more resistant to fibrolytic enzyme action (Shrivastava et al. 2012). Generally, the complexity of the lignocellulosic matrix and its interaction with proteins increases in more advanced growth stages of the plant. It is noted that WS and BS corresponded to post-harvest waste, and OH corresponded to a more aged plant biomass, whereas DA and DB came from first cut forage plants with a phenological state prior to flowering. To improve access of fungal enzymes to the organic matter in the substrates, it is necessary to break the lignocellulosic and hemicellulosic structures located in the cell walls (Kuhad et al., 1997; Colombatto et al, 2007); when this occurs, the digestion of substrates is accelerated and higher levels of degradation can be achieved. It should be considered that during the process of enzymatic digestion of organic matter, a diverse pool of polysaccharidases and proteases act synergistically, and can liberate nitrogen compounds and carbon skeletons highly resistant to degradation. Indeed, An has a powerful pool of fibrolytic and proteolytic enzymes (Villas-Boas et al., 2002; Howard et al, 2003; Pensupa et al., 2013), which would explain the levels of degradation of DM and fibrous structures found in this investigation. With respect to incubation time, the results showed differences in the magnitude of An digestion achieved between 72 h and 144 h, a phenomenon observed for all substrates and for all parameters measured (Table 3). Although a kinetic study of the degradation of DM and fibrous fractions was not performed in this study, these results show that digestion had not begun to asymptote at 72 h; that occurred later in incubation. In previous studies, our laboratory found asymptotic values of An digestion of fibrous substrates with kinetic times approaching 100-120 h. Therefore, in this study, 144 h was chosen as end of incubation. It should be noted that the average level of digestion at 72 h of incubation, for all substrates, was 29.09% DM, 18.7% NDF and 9.25% ADF to IVDMD72, DVNDF72 and DVADF72, respectively. These values represent 75.79%, 61.64% and 62.83%, respectively, of the average digestion achieved at 144 h of incubation (across all substrates). These observations allow us to state that a significant fraction (> 60%) of the hydrolytic activity of An took place during the first 72 h. However, An requires additional incubation time to reach its full digestive potential. Furthermore, the observed increase of SN in all treatments (Table 2) reveals probable proteolytic activity, although it was not directly measured in this investigation. Normally, solubilization of nitrogenous compounds is the result of protein degradation. Moreover, the decrease in NDIN and ADIN content in all treatments (P0.05) is directly related to increased SN, indicating possible proteolytic activity of An during incubation. Additionally, this situation can be connected to the increase in TP content in all treatments, which could be attributed to the increase in An cell biomass growing on the substrates. Fiber digestion of the substrates tested (NDF and ADF) provided An with energy and carbon skeletons for cell reproduction and growth, implying, although it was not measured directly, a likely increase in microbial protein synthesis. In this context, it is noted that the largest increases in TP (P0.05), the nutritional parameter that can be directly linked to protein synthesis, were observed in the DAAn and DBAn treatments, which averaged a 0.59% increase in TP. In comparison, WSAn, BSAn and OHAn treatments averaged a TP increase of 0.32%. A possible explanation for these differences is that forage foods (DA and DB) showed the greatest digestibility of DM, NDF and ADF, which allowed access to more energy, carbonaceous skeletons and nitrogen sources for An metabolism during incubation. Additionally, there may have been some variability in the efficiency of TP synthesis performed by An, as a result of digesting and metabolizing substrates and nutrients of different chemical nature (Velásquez et al., 2012).

In general, it can be stated that the results of this investigation confirm the fibrolytic potential of An, which could improve the nutritive value of fibrous foods. This would be achieved by digestion of structural carbohydrates, together with release nitrogenous fractions located in cell walls, producing a change in the potential digestibility of treated foods. Additionally, it should be considered that An cell biomass (growing on these substrates) forms part of the final mass of the bioprocess, providing protein of high biological value, carbohydrates and vitamins (Rajesh et al., 2010), along with other nutrients contained in the fungal protoplasm.

Acknowledgments

We thank Químico Laborista MSc. María Isabel Martínez for collaboration in the laboratory experiments. This project was funded by DGIP 2009308 of Universidad Católica de Temuco (Chile).

 

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Received October 17, 2014.
Accepted March 17, 2015.

 

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