Comparison of purines and nitrogen-15 as microbial flow markers in beef heifers fed barley- or corn-based diets

A. N. Hristov, T. A. McAllister, D. R. Ouellet, G. A. Broderick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to estimate the contribution of microbial purine bases to duodenal purines and to purine derivatives [allantoin and uric acid (PD)] excreted in the urine. Additionally, microbial protein (MCP) flow estimated using duodenal flow of purine bases was compared to estimates using 15N as a microbial marker. Four beef heifers were fed two diets, barley silage/barley grain/soybean meal (diet B) or com silage/corn grain/corn gluten meal (diet C), in a crossover design study. (15NH 4)2SO4 was infused in the rumen for 8 d to label ruminal microorganisms and their purine bases. Rumen contents, duodenal digesta, urine, and feces were sampled during the last 2 d of tracer infusion and for 48 h after the infusion ceased. The animals consumed more (P < 0.01) dry matter (DM), organic matter (OM), N, and neutral detergent fiber (NDF) with diet B than with diet C. Total tract digestibilities of DM, OM, and NDF were also higher (P < 0.01) with diet B. Ruminal ammonia (P < 0.01), volatile fatty acids (P < 0.05), and acetate (P < 0.01) concentrations and xylanase activity (P < 0.05) were higher with diet B compared with diet C. Flow of MCP to the duodenum was estimated from duodenal samples using purines or 15N as microbial markers, or from urinary PD excretion. The effects of diet or method of measurement on MCP flow were not significant. However, when the urinary PD method was excluded from the analysis, MCP flow was greater (by 26%; P = 0.01) when estimated using 15N vs. the purine-based method. The difference was mainly due to underestimation of the proportion of microbial N in the liquid duodenal digesta with the purine method. Feed purines contributed from 3.5 (liquid digesta phase) to 19.7% (solid digesta phase) of the total purine flow at the duodenum. 15N-enrichment of urinary PD was 1.08 of the enrichment of duodenal purines, suggesting that feed purines contributed little N to urinary allantoin and uric acid in cattle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-222
Number of pages12
JournalCanadian Journal of Animal Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology


Dive into the research topics of 'Comparison of purines and nitrogen-15 as microbial flow markers in beef heifers fed barley- or corn-based diets'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this