Skip to main content Accessibility help

The stimulatory effect of the organic sulfur supplement, mercaptopropane sulfonic acid on cellulolytic rumen microorganisms and microbial protein synthesis in cattle fed low sulfur roughages

  • C. S. McSweeney (a1), S. E. Denman (a1), L. L. Conlan (a1), C. S. Prasad (a2), S. Anandan (a2), M. Chandrasekharaiah (a2) and K. T. Sampath (a2)...


Two metabolism trials (experiments 1 and 2) were conducted to examine the effect of the organic S compound, sodium 3-mercapto-1-propane sulfonic acid (MPS) on feed intake, fiber digestibility, rumen fermentation and abundance of cellulolytic rumen microorganisms in cattle fed low S (<0.11%) roughages. Urea was provided in all treatments to compensate for the N deficiency (<0.6%) in the roughages. In experiment 1, steers (333 ± 9.5 kg liveweight) were fed Angleton grass (Dicanthium aristatum) supplemented with S in equivalent amounts as either MPS (6.0 g/day) or sodium sulfate (9.56 g/day). Supplementation of Angelton grass with either sulfate or MPS resulted in an apparent increase in flow of rumen microbial protein from the rumen. Sulfur supplementation did not significantly change whole tract dry matter digestibility or intake, even though sulfate and MPS supplementation was associated with an increase in the relative abundance of the fibrolytic bacteria Fibrobacter succinogenes and anaerobic rumen fungi. Ruminal sulfide levels were significantly higher in the sulfate treatment, which indicated that the bioavailability of the two S atoms in the MPS molecule may be low in the rumen. Based on this observation, experiment 2 was conducted in which twice the amount of S was provided in the form of MPS (8.0 g/day) compared with sodium sulfate (6.6 g/day) to heifers (275 ± 9 kg liveweight) fed rice straw. Supplementation with MPS compared with sulfate in experiment 2 resulted in an increase in concentration of total volatile fatty acids, and ammonia utilization without a change in feed intake or whole tract fiber digestibility even though S and N were above requirement for growing cattle in both these treatment groups. In conclusion, supplementation of an S deficient low-quality roughage diet with either MPS or sodium sulfate, in conjunction with urea N, improved rumen fermentation, which was reflected in an increase in urinary purine excretion. However, MPS appeared to have a greater effect on stimulating short-chain fatty acid production and ammonia utilization when provided at higher concentrations than sulfate. Thus, the metabolism of MPS in the rumen needs to be investigated further in comparison with inorganic forms of S as it may prove to be more effective in stimulating fermentation of roughage diets.


Corresponding author


Hide All
AOAC 1990. Official methods of analysis, 15th edition. Association of Official Analytical Chemists, Washington, DC, USA.
Australian Agricultural Council 1990. Feeding standards for Australian livestock: Ruminants. Australian Agricultural Council, Ruminants Subcommittee, CSIRO Publications, Melbourne, Australia.
Barnett, A, John, G, Reid, RL 1956. Studies on production of volatile fatty acids from grass by rumen liquor in an artificial rumen. Journal of Agricultural Science 48, 315321.
Bull, LS, Vandersall, JH 1973. Sulfur source for in vitro cellulose digestion and in vivo ration utilisation, nitrogen metabolism, and sulfur balance. Journal of Dairy Science 56, 106112.
Chaney, AL, Marbach, EP 1962. Modified reagents for determination of urea and ammonia. Clinical Chemistry 8, 130132.
Champredon, C, Pion, R, Basson, WD 1976. Comparison of the digestive utilization of methionine, of its hydroxylated analog, and of sodium sulfate in goats using 35S compounds. Comptes Rendus Hebdomadaires des Séances de l’Académie des Sciences, Série D: Sciences Naturelles 282, 743746.
Chen, XB, Gomes, MJ 1992. Estimation of microbial protein supply to sheep and cattle based on urinary excretion of purine derivatives – an overview of the technical details. International Feed Resources Unit, Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen, UK. Occasional Publication.
Chen, XB, Hovell, FDDeB, Orskov, ER, Brown, DS 1990. Excretion of purine derivatives by ruminants: effect of exogenous nucleic acid supply on purine derivative excretion by sheep. British Journal of Nutrition 63, 131142.
Conway, EJ 1962. Microdiffusion analysis and volumetric error, 5th edition. University Press, Glasgow, Scotland, pp. 98110.
Denman, SE, McSweeney, CS 2006. Development of a real-time PCR assay for monitoring anaerobic fungal and cellulolytic populations within the rumen. FEMS Microbial Ecology 58, 572582.
Firkins, JL, Hristov, AN, Hall, MB, Varga, GA, St-Pierre, NR 2006. Integration of ruminal metabolism in dairy cattle. Journal of Dairy Science 89, E31E51.
Gil, LA, Shirley, RL, Moore, JE 1973. Effect of methionone hydroxy analog on growth, amino acid content, and catabolic products of glucolytic rumen bacteria in vitro. Journal of Dairy Science 56, 757762.
Goering, HK, Van Soest, PJ 1970. Forage fiber analyses (apparatus, reagents, procedures, and some applications). Agriculture handbook 379. ARS, USDA, Washington, DC, USA.
Gordon, GLR 1985. The potential for manipulation of rumen fungi. Reviews in Rural Science 6, 124128.
Kahlon, TS, Meiske, JC, Goodrich, RD 1975. Sulfur metabolism in ruminants. 1. In vitro availability of various chemical forms of sulfur. Journal of Animal Science 41, 11471153.
Kandylis, K 1981. Models of rumen sulphur metabolism in sheep. PhD, University of Tasmania.
Kennedy, PM, Milligan, LP 1978. Quantitative aspects of the transformations of sulphur in sheep. British Journal of Nutrition 39, 6584.
Khan, SU, Morris, GF, Hidiroglou, M 1980. Rapid estimation of sulfide in rumen and blood with sulfide-specific ion electrode. Microchemical Journal 25, 388395.
McMeniman, NP, Ben-Ghedalia, D, Elliott, R 1976. Sulfur and cystine incorporation into rumen microbial protein. British Journal of Nutrition 36, 571574.
McSweeney, CS, Denman, SE 2007. Effect of sulfur supplements on cellulolytic rumen microorganisms and microbial protein synthesis in cattle fed a roughage diet. Journal of Applied Microbiology 103, 17571765.
Moir, JA 1975. Sulphur in Australian agriculture (ed. KD McLachlan), pp. 104116. Sydney University Press, Sydney.
Mopper, K 1984. Trace determination of biological thiols by liquid chromatography and precolumn fluorometric labelling with o-phthaldialdehyde. Analytical Chemistry 56, 25572560.
Morrison, M, Murray, RM, Boniface, AN 1990. Nutrient metabolism and rumen micro-organisms in sheep fed a poor-quality tropical grass hay supplemented with sulphate. Journal of Agricultural Science 115, 269275.
Onoda, A, Kobayashi, Y, Hoshino, S 1996. Effects of amino acids on the growth of an anaerobic rumen fungus Neocallimastix sp. N 13. Reproduction Nutrition Development 36, 311320.
Phillips, MW, Gordon, GLR 1991. Growth responses to reduced sulfur compounds of a ruminal fungus, Neocallimastix sp. LM1. In Proceedings of the Third International Symposium on the Nutrition of Herbivores (ed. MW Zahari, ZA Tajuddin, N Abdullah and HK Wong), p. 26. Malaysian Society for Animal Production, Serdang.
Pisulewski, PM, Okorie, AU, Buttery, PJ, Haresign, W, Lewis, D 1981. Ammonia concentration and protein synthesis in the rumen. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 32, 759766.
Rees, MC, Minson, DJ 1978. Fertilizer sulphur as a factor affecting voluntary intake, digestibility and retention time of pangola grass (Digitaria decumbens) by sheep. British Journal of Nutrition 39, 511.
Rees, MC, Minson, DJ, Smith, FW 1974. The effect of supplementary and fertilizer sulphur on voluntary intake, digestibility, retention time in the rumen, and site of digestion of pangola grass in sheep. Journal of Agricultural Science 82, 419422.


The stimulatory effect of the organic sulfur supplement, mercaptopropane sulfonic acid on cellulolytic rumen microorganisms and microbial protein synthesis in cattle fed low sulfur roughages

  • C. S. McSweeney (a1), S. E. Denman (a1), L. L. Conlan (a1), C. S. Prasad (a2), S. Anandan (a2), M. Chandrasekharaiah (a2) and K. T. Sampath (a2)...


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed