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Hydrogen and formate production and utilisation in the rumen and the human colon

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posted on 2023-05-03, 20:40 authored by William Kelly, Roderick Mackie, Graeme AttwoodGraeme Attwood, Peter JanssenPeter Janssen, Tim McAllister, Sinead LeahySinead Leahy
Molecular hydrogen (H2) and formate (HCOO−) are metabolic end products of many primary fermenters in the mammalian gut. Both play a vital role in fermentation where they are electron sinks for individual microbes in an anaerobic environment that lacks external electron acceptors. If H2 and/or formate accumulate within the gut ecosystem, the ability of primary fermenters to regenerate electron carriers may be inhibited and microbial metabolism and growth disrupted. Consequently, H2- and/or formate-consuming microbes such as methanogens and homoacetogens play a key role in maintaining the metabolic efficiency of primary fermenters. There is increasing interest in identifying approaches to manipulate mammalian gut environments for the benefit of the host and the environment. As H2 and formate are important mediators of interspecies interactions, an understanding of their production and utilisation could be a significant entry point for the development of successful interventions. Ruminant methane mitigation approaches are discussed as a model to help understand the fate of H2 and formate in gut systems.


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© The Author(s) 2022. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made.


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Springer Nature

Journal title

Animal Microbiome




Kelly, W. J., Mackie, R. I., Attwood, G. T., Janssen, P. H., McAllister, T. A., & Leahy, S. C. (2022). Hydrogen and formate production and utilisation in the rumen and the human colon. Animal Microbiome, 4, 22.

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