Molecular Weight of Condensed Tannins from Warm-season Perennial Legumes and Its Effect on Condensed Tannin Biological Activity
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Condensed tannins (CT) are polyphenolic compounds that have demonstrated biological activities in ruminants including suppression of enteric methane (CH4) production, protein binding and suppression of gastrointestinal nematode (GIN) infections. Some forage CT have been reported to be biologically active, whereas others have demonstrated no biological activity at all. While the chemical structure of CT has been postulated to be a key contributing factor affecting biological activity, the specific factors that determine whether or not CT from a specific forage have bioactive properties remain unknown. Results from previous studies have shown that as molecular weight of CT increases, CT biological activity also increases. Others have reported no effect of CT molecular weight on biological activity. The relationship between molecular weight of CT and CT biological activity remains inconclusive. The effect of molecular weight of CT from a variety of warm-season perennial legumes commonly consumed by ruminants on biological activity has not been adequately explored. The objectives of this study were to determine if molecular weight of CT from warm-season perennial legumes could predict the biological activity of CT relative to suppression of enteric CH4 production, protein-binding ability (PB) and anthelmintic activity, and to compare the biological activity of CT from native warm-season perennial legumes to that of the introduced species Lespedeza cuneata, a plant that has gained attention in recent years due its anthelmintic properties. All or a combination of the following warm-season perennial legume species were evaluated for in vitro gas production, protein-precipitable phenolics (PPP) and PB, and percent larval migration inhibition (LMI). Eight North American native warm-season perennial legumes: Leucaena retusa Benth. (littleleaf leadtree), Desmanthus illinoensis (Michx.) MacMill. Ex B.L. Rob. & Fernald (Illinois bundleflower), Lespedeza stuevei Nutt. (tall lespedeza), Mimosa strigillosa Torr. & A. Gray (powderpuff), Neptunia lutea (Leavenworth) Benth. (yellow puff), two ecotypes of Acacia angustissima var. hirta (Nutt.) B.L. Rob (prairie acacia), Desmodium paniculatum (L.) DC. var. paniculatum (panicledleaf ticktrefoil), and two introduced legumes: Arachis glabrata Benth. (rhizoma peanut) and Lespedeza cuneata (Dum. Cours.) G. Don (sericea lespedeza) were included. In vitro CH4 production regressed on CT MW resulted in a R2 of 0.0009 (P = 0.80). There was no correlation between PPP or PB and MW of CT (R^2 0.11; P = 0.17 and R^2 0.02; P = 0.54, respectively). There was a weak correlation between CT MW and percent LMI (R^2 0.34; P = 0.05). The results of our study strongly suggested that CT MW does not explain the biological activities of enteric methane suppression or protein-binding ability. Condensed tannin MW may be involved in anthelmintic activity of CT from the forage legumes surveyed. North American native legumes containing biologically active CT, as compared to introduced species, were identified as having promise for use in ruminant diets.
Naumann, Harley Dean (2013). Molecular Weight of Condensed Tannins from Warm-season Perennial Legumes and Its Effect on Condensed Tannin Biological Activity. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from