Impact of camphor on the in vitro mixed ruminal microorganism fermentation from goats selected for consumption of low and high levels of Juniperus spp. 1.
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Encroaching plant species in West Texas continues to significantly reduce livestock production capacity and cause an imbalance between plant and livestock ecology. Juniperus ashei and Juniperus pinchotii are encroaching species rarely used by browsing animals, mainly due to phytochemical defenses. Juniperus spp. contain large concentrations of monoterpenes in their essential oil profiles to deter herbivory. Since 2003, two divergent bloodlines of meat goats have been selected to consume low or high (LJC or HJC) amounts of juniper foliage, through screening fecal samples with near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy. However, it remains unclear whether HJC goats expressed a physiological ability to consume a greater amount of juniper or if they were colonized by a ruminal microbial population that could detoxify juniper phytochemicals. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the impact of 0.00 and 1.97 mM of camphor on the mixed ruminal microorganism fermentation after 0, 1, 2, 4, 12, and 24 h of incubation. Five LJC and five HJC goats were fed a juniper-free diet (n = 10) and five LJC and five HJC goats (n = 10), were fed a diet containing 30% fresh J. ashei leaves for 21 days prior to ruminal fluid collection. In vitro fermentations used LJC and HJC, ruminal fluid inoculum was added (33% v/v) to anoxic media in sealed Balch tubes. Total short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) production and acetate to propionate ratio were increased (P < 0.05), but there was no effect on pH (6.56 0.09). Goats that received the juniper-free diet had higher (P < 0.05) SCFA production than juniper-containing diets. There was no consistent difference in LJC and HJC microbial fermentation end products caused by the addition of 1.97 mM of camphor, and goats receiving a juniper-free diet consistently generated more SCFAs in the presence of 1.97 mM of camphor. Furthermore, bloodline differences in juniper consumption were likely related to physiological adaption capacities within the animal and not a ruminal microbial detoxification advantage.