Ricinoleic acid inhibits methanogenesis and fatty acid biohydrogenation in ruminal digesta from sheep and in bacterial cultures

E. Ramos Morales, M. A. Mata Espinosa, N. McKain, R. J. Wallace*

*Corresponding author for this work

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17 Citations (SciVal)


Ricinoleic acid (RA; 12-hydroxycis-9-18: 1) is the main fatty acid component of castor oil. Although a precursor for CLA synthesis in lactic acid bacteria, RA was found previously not to form CLA in ruminal digesta but to have some inhibitory properties. The present study was undertaken to evaluate the potential of RA to modulate ruminal biohydrogenation and methanogenesis. Ruminal digesta from 4 sheep receiving a mixed hay-concentrate diet was incubated in vitro with 0.167 g/L of linoleic acid (LA; cis-9, cis-12-18: 2) or with a combination of LA and RA or LA and castor oil (LA, RA, and castor oil added to a final concentration of 0.167 g/L) in the presence and absence of lipase. The CLA rumenic acid (cis-9, trans-11-18: 2) accumulated when either RA or castor oil and lipase was present. Vaccenic acid (VA; trans-11-18: 1) also accumulated, and a decrease of the rate of production of stearic acid (SA; 18: 0) was observed. When LA was incubated with castor oil in the absence of lipase, no effects on biohydrogenation were observed. Ricinoleic acid at 0.02 g/L did not affect growth of Butyrivibrio fibrisolvens but it inhibited growth of Butyrivibrio proteoclasticus. Butyrivibrio proteoclasticus but not B. fibrisolvens metabolized RA to 12-hydroxystearate. Linoleic acid metabolism by B. proteoclasticus appeared to be unaffected by RA addition whereas rumenic acid accumulation increased (P = 0.015 at 12 h) when RA was added. A 28% decrease (P = 0.004) in methane was obtained in 24 h in vitro incubations of diluted buffered ruminal fluid with added 0.2 g RA/L. There was no effect on the total concentration of VFA after 24 h as a result of RA addition, but the molar proportions of acetate and butyrate were decreased (P = 0.041 and P <0.001, respectively) whereas that of propionate increased (P <0.001). It was concluded that, at least in vitro, RA or the combination of castor oil and lipase inhibit biohydrogenation, causing the accumulation of rumenic acid and VA, with potential health benefits for ruminant products. The effect appeared to be mediated via an inhibitory effect on the biohydrogenating activity of B. proteoclasticus. An added environmental benefit could be a concomitant decrease in methane emissions. In vivo studies are now required to confirm the potential of these additives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4943-4950
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


  • biohydrogenation
  • conjugated linoleic acid
  • methane
  • ricinoleic acid
  • vaccenic acid
  • MILK


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