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Digesta retention patterns in geese (Anser anser) and turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) and deduced function of avian caeca


Frei, Samuel; Ortmann, Sylvia; Kreuzer, Michael; Hatt, Jean-Michel; Clauss, Marcus (2017). Digesta retention patterns in geese (Anser anser) and turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) and deduced function of avian caeca. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. Part A, Molecular & Integrative Physiology, 204:219-227.

Abstract

Although it is well-known that retrograde transport of urine fills the caeca of birds with fluid and small particles, the function of avian caeca is still not fully understood. We measured mean retention times (MRT) of solute (cobalt-EDTA, Co), small particle (< 2 mm, chromium-mordanted fibre, Cr) and large particle (8 mm, cerium-marked fibre, Ce) markers in geese (Anser anser) and turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) fed alfalfa pellets ad libitum. Intake did not differ between species. Turkeys had longer MRT for all markers (Co: 10.4 vs. 3.2 h; Cr 23.3 vs. 2.9 h; Ce 9.5 vs. 2.1 h), achieved a higher fibre digestibility, and had a higher calculated dry matter gut fill. Thus, geese and turkeys correspond to the typical dichotomy of good fliers vs. poor fliers/flightless species in avian herbivores. Because uric acid is fermented much faster by microbes than fibre, the ultimate cause of short-MRT digesta retention in avian caeca as in geese is possibly rather uric acid than fibre fermentation. The numerical differences between marker MRT in geese correspond to a colonic separation mechanism that delays the excretion of fluids more than small and again more than large particles. In contrast to geese, turkeys excreted solid and liquid (caecal) faeces. Liquid faeces contained less fibre and more crude protein than solid faeces and accounted for the excretion of 7, 25 and 34% of Ce, Co and Cr markers. Marker excretion patterns and MRT for liquid faeces (Co 15 vs. Cr 50 h) suggest that small particles did not simply move in parallel to fluids, but were retained selectively by being trapped in colonic digesta upon expulsion from caeca, with subsequent repeated retrograde transport into caeca with the next batch of urine. Given the absence of coprophagy in birds (in contrast to small mammalian herbivores), such a delay of small (microbial) particle escape from the caeca appears reasonable.

Abstract

Although it is well-known that retrograde transport of urine fills the caeca of birds with fluid and small particles, the function of avian caeca is still not fully understood. We measured mean retention times (MRT) of solute (cobalt-EDTA, Co), small particle (< 2 mm, chromium-mordanted fibre, Cr) and large particle (8 mm, cerium-marked fibre, Ce) markers in geese (Anser anser) and turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) fed alfalfa pellets ad libitum. Intake did not differ between species. Turkeys had longer MRT for all markers (Co: 10.4 vs. 3.2 h; Cr 23.3 vs. 2.9 h; Ce 9.5 vs. 2.1 h), achieved a higher fibre digestibility, and had a higher calculated dry matter gut fill. Thus, geese and turkeys correspond to the typical dichotomy of good fliers vs. poor fliers/flightless species in avian herbivores. Because uric acid is fermented much faster by microbes than fibre, the ultimate cause of short-MRT digesta retention in avian caeca as in geese is possibly rather uric acid than fibre fermentation. The numerical differences between marker MRT in geese correspond to a colonic separation mechanism that delays the excretion of fluids more than small and again more than large particles. In contrast to geese, turkeys excreted solid and liquid (caecal) faeces. Liquid faeces contained less fibre and more crude protein than solid faeces and accounted for the excretion of 7, 25 and 34% of Ce, Co and Cr markers. Marker excretion patterns and MRT for liquid faeces (Co 15 vs. Cr 50 h) suggest that small particles did not simply move in parallel to fluids, but were retained selectively by being trapped in colonic digesta upon expulsion from caeca, with subsequent repeated retrograde transport into caeca with the next batch of urine. Given the absence of coprophagy in birds (in contrast to small mammalian herbivores), such a delay of small (microbial) particle escape from the caeca appears reasonable.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Veterinary Clinic > Department of Small Animals
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
630 Agriculture
Uncontrolled Keywords:Caecum; Colonic separation mechanism; Digesta passage; Digestion; Gut capacity; Intake
Language:English
Date:2017
Deposited On:22 Dec 2016 15:42
Last Modified:21 Nov 2017 18:46
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:1095-6433
Funders:SNF, Basler Stiftung für biologische Forschung
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cbpa.2016.12.001
PubMed ID:27923709

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