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1.  Lovastatin in Aspergillus terreus: Fermented Rice Straw Extracts Interferes with Methane Production and Gene Expression in Methanobrevibacter smithii 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:604721.
Lovastatin, a natural byproduct of some fungi, is able to inhibit HMG-CoA (3-hydroxy-3methyl glutaryl CoA) reductase. This is a key enzyme involved in isoprenoid synthesis and essential for cell membrane formation in methanogenic Archaea. In this paper, experiments were designed to test the hypothesis that lovastatin secreted by Aspergillus terreus in fermented rice straw extracts (FRSE) can inhibit growth and CH4 production in Methanobrevibacter smithii (a test methanogen). By HPLC analysis, 75% of the total lovastatin in FRSE was in the active hydroxyacid form, and in vitro studies confirmed that this had a stronger effect in reducing both growth and CH4 production in M. smithii compared to commercial lovastatin. Transmission electron micrographs revealed distorted morphological divisions of lovastatin- and FRSE-treated M. smithii cells, supporting its role in blocking normal cell membrane synthesis. Real-time PCR confirmed that both commercial lovastatin and FRSE increased (P < 0.01) the expression of HMG-CoA reductase gene (hmg). In addition, expressions of other gene transcripts in M. smithii. with a key involvement in methanogenesis were also affected. Experimental confirmation that CH4 production is inhibited by lovastatin in A. terreus-fermented rice straw paves the way for its evaluation as a feed additive for mitigating CH4 production in ruminants.
PMCID: PMC3655455  PMID: 23710454
2.  Lovastatin-Enriched Rice Straw Enhances Biomass Quality and Suppresses Ruminal Methanogenesis 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:397934.
The primary objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that solid state fermentation (SSF) of agro-biomass (using rice straw as model); besides, breaking down its lignocellulose content to improve its nutritive values also produces lovastatin which could be used to suppress methanogenesis in the rumen ecosystem. Fermented rice straw (FRS) containing lovastatin after fermentation with Aspergillus terreus was used as substrate for growth study of rumen microorganisms using in vitro gas production method. In the first experiment, the extract from the FRS (FRSE) which contained lovastatin was evaluated for its efficacy for reduction in methane (CH4) production, microbial population, and activity in the rumen fluid. FRSE reduced total gas and CH4 productions (P < 0.01). It also reduced (P < 0.01) total methanogens population and increased the cellulolytic bacteria including Ruminococcus albus, Fibrobacter succinogenes (P < 0.01), and Ruminococcus flavefaciens (P < 0.05). Similarly, FRS reduced total gas and CH4 productions, methanogens population, but increased in vitro dry mater digestibility compared to the non-fermented rice straw. Lovastatin in the FRSE and the FRS significantly increased the expression of HMG-CoA reductase gene that produces HMG-CoA reductase, a key enzyme for cell membrane production in methanogenic Archaea.
PMCID: PMC3581142  PMID: 23484116
3.  Comparison of methanogen diversity of yak (Bos grunniens) and cattle (Bos taurus) from the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau, China 
BMC Microbiology  2012;12:237.
Methane emissions by methanogen from livestock ruminants have significantly contributed to the agricultural greenhouse gas effect. It is worthwhile to compare methanogen from “energy-saving” animal (yak) and normal animal (cattle) in order to investigate the link between methanogen structure and low methane production.
Diversity of methanogens from the yak and cattle rumen was investigated by analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences from rumen digesta samples from four yaks (209 clones) and four cattle (205 clones) from the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau area (QTP). Overall, a total of 414 clones (i.e. sequences) were examined and assigned to 95 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) using MOTHUR, based upon a 98% species-level identity criterion. Forty-six OTUs were unique to the yak clone library and 34 OTUs were unique to the cattle clone library, while 15 OTUs were found in both libraries. Of the 95 OTUs, 93 putative new species were identified. Sequences belonging to the Thermoplasmatales-affiliated Linage C (TALC) were found to dominate in both libraries, accounting for 80.9% and 62.9% of the sequences from the yak and cattle clone libraries, respectively. Sequences belonging to the Methanobacteriales represented the second largest clade in both libraries. However, Methanobrevibacter wolinii (QTPC 110) was only found in the cattle library. The number of clones from the order Methanomicrobiales was greater in cattle than in the yak clone library. Although the Shannon index value indicated similar diversity between the two libraries, the Libshuff analysis indicated that the methanogen community structure of the yak was significantly different than those from cattle.
This study revealed for the first time the molecular diversity of methanogen community in yaks and cattle in Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau area in China. From the analysis, we conclude that yaks have a unique rumen microbial ecosystem that is significantly different from that of cattle, this may also help to explain why yak produce less methane than cattle.
PMCID: PMC3502369  PMID: 23078429
4.  Lovastatin Production by Aspergillus terreus Using Agro-Biomass as Substrate in Solid State Fermentation 
Ability of two strains of Aspergillus terreus (ATCC 74135 and ATCC 20542) for production of lovastatin in solid state fermentation (SSF) using rice straw (RS) and oil palm frond (OPF) was investigated. Results showed that RS is a better substrate for production of lovastatin in SSF. Maximum production of lovastatin has been obtained using A. terreus ATCC 74135 and RS as substrate without additional nitrogen source (157.07 mg/kg dry matter (DM)). Although additional nitrogen source has no benefit effect on enhancing the lovastatin production using RS substrate, it improved the lovastatin production using OPF with maximum production of 70.17 and 63.76 mg/kg DM for A. terreus ATCC 20542 and A. terreus ATCC 74135, respectively (soybean meal as nitrogen source). Incubation temperature, moisture content, and particle size had shown significant effect on lovastatin production (P < 0.01) and inoculums size and pH had no significant effect on lovastatin production (P > 0.05). Results also have shown that pH 6, 25°C incubation temperature, 1.4 to 2 mm particle size, 50% initial moisture content, and 8 days fermentation time are the best conditions for lovastatin production in SSF. Maximum production of lovastatin using optimized condition was 175.85 and 260.85 mg/kg DM for A. terreus ATCC 20542 and ATCC 74135, respectively, using RS as substrate.
PMCID: PMC3478940  PMID: 23118499
5.  Correlation Coefficients Between Different Methods of Expressing Bacterial Quantification Using Real Time PCR 
The applications of conventional culture-dependent assays to quantify bacteria populations are limited by their dependence on the inconsistent success of the different culture-steps involved. In addition, some bacteria can be pathogenic or a source of endotoxins and pose a health risk to the researchers. Bacterial quantification based on the real-time PCR method can overcome the above-mentioned problems. However, the quantification of bacteria using this approach is commonly expressed as absolute quantities even though the composition of samples (like those of digesta) can vary widely; thus, the final results may be affected if the samples are not properly homogenized, especially when multiple samples are to be pooled together before DNA extraction. The objective of this study was to determine the correlation coefficients between four different methods of expressing the output data of real-time PCR-based bacterial quantification. The four methods were: (i) the common absolute method expressed as the cell number of specific bacteria per gram of digesta; (ii) the Livak and Schmittgen, ΔΔCt method; (iii) the Pfaffl equation; and (iv) a simple relative method based on the ratio of cell number of specific bacteria to the total bacterial cells. Because of the effect on total bacteria population in the results obtained using ΔCt-based methods (ΔΔCt and Pfaffl), these methods lack the acceptable consistency to be used as valid and reliable methods in real-time PCR-based bacterial quantification studies. On the other hand, because of the variable compositions of digesta samples, a simple ratio of cell number of specific bacteria to the corresponding total bacterial cells of the same sample can be a more accurate method to quantify the population.
PMCID: PMC3292011  PMID: 22408442
real time PCR; bacterial quantification; absolute and ΔΔCt; Pfaffl equation

Results 1-5 (5)