Effect of Alkali Pretreatment of Wheat Straw on the Efficiency of Exogenous Fibrolytic Enzymes

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Journal Animal Science



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The effects of pretreating wheat straw with alkali on the efficacy of exogenous fibrolytic enzymes for improving straw digestibility were studied in vitro, in situ, and in vivo. In Exp. 1, untreated straw (US); alkali-treated (5% NaOH, wt/wt) straw (AS); and autoclaved, alkali-treated straw (AAS) were sprayed with 0 or 1.5 mg/g DM of enzyme mix (xylanase, β-glucanase, carboxymethylcellulase, and amylase) and incubated for 30 h in buffered ruminal fluid (3 × 2 factorial arrangement). Enzymes increased (P < 0.001) gas production and the incorporation of 15N into microbial N at 4 h, more so with AS or AAS than with US (P < 0.001 for gas; P < 0.05 for 15N). In Exp. 2, US and AS were sprayed with enzymes at 0, 0.15, or 1.5 mg/g DM (2 × 3 factorial) and incubated ruminally in nylon bags for up to 80 h to determine the in situ DM disappearance (ISDMD). Interactive effects (P < 0.05) of pretreatment and enzymes were observed on all ruminal degradation parameters. Alkali increased the rate (P < 0.01) and extent (P < 0.001) of ISDMD irrespective of enzymes. Enzymes applied to US did not affect the extent of ISDMD, but they increased (P < 0.01) the extent of ISDMD when applied to AS. Substrates from Exp. 1 and 2 were incubated in acetate buffer for 24 h to measure the hydrolytic loss of DM and release of reducing sugars and phenolic compounds. Alkali pretreatment and enzymes each increased (P < 0.001) DM loss and the release of reducing sugars and, in combination, exerted synergistic effects (P < 0.001). Enzymes did not affect the release of phenolic compounds from the straw. In Exp. 3, total-tract digestibility of untreated and enzyme-treated (100 mL/kg DM) ammoniated straw was assessed using 32 beef cows in eight pens. Wrapped straw bales were injected with NH3 (3% [wt/wt], DM basis) 4 mo before the study; enzymes were applied immediately before feeding. Applying enzyme to ammoniated straw increased (P < 0.05) digestibilities of DM, OM, and total N but did not affect the intake of DM or digestibility of ADF. Pretreatment of straw with alkali enhanced the efficacy of exogenous enzymes, presumably by breaking esterified bonds and releasing phenolic compounds and/or by swelling the crystalline cellulose and enhancing enzyme penetration. Including enzymes that mimic alkali hydrolysis (e.g., esterases) in commercial feed additives could substantially improve the value of these products for ruminants.