1. The digestibility of the cell wall polysaccharides of an alkane-grown yeast in different parts of the digestive tract of two veal calves fitted with re-entrant cannulas at the end of the ileum was studied by replacing part of the skim-milk powder of their ‘normal’, milk-substitute (all-milk-protein) diet by yeast (yeast diet).
2. The lactose and glucose of both the all-milk-protein diet and the yeast diet were almost completely digested before the end of the ileum. During this digestion a small amount of oligosaccharides composed of galactose and glucose was synthesized. These oligosaccharides were digested again in the large intestine.
3. The constituent sugars of the water-soluble fraction of the yeast cell wall carbohydrates were glucose and mannose. The 0.5 m-sulphuric acid-hydrolysate of the water-insoluble fraction contained glucose and mannose and the 12 m-H2SO4-hydrolysate only glucose.
4. Digestibilities of these fractions over the whole gastrointestinal tract ranged from 0.77 to 0.90. Digestibilities measured at the end of the ileum varied considerably between the two animals and averaged only about 0.40.
5. These findings suggest that the cell wall polysaccharides of yeast are digested very little by the normal digestive enzymes of the calf's small intestine, but are used as a substrate by the bacterial flora which are mainly concentrated in the large intestine.