Inhibition of fructan-fermenting equine faecal bacteria and Streptococcus bovis by hops (Humulus lupulus L.) β-acid

B. E. Harlow, L. M. Lawrence, I. A. Kagan, M. D. Flythe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Aims: The goals of this study were to determine if β-acid from hops (Humulus lupulus L.) could be used to control fructan fermentation by equine hindgut micro-organisms, and to verify the antimicrobial mode of action on Streptococcus bovis, which has been implicated in fructan fermentation, hindgut acidosis and pasture-associated laminitis (PAL) in the horse. Methods and Results: Suspensions of uncultivated equine faecal micro-organisms produced fermentation acids when inulin (model fructan) was the substrate, but β-acid (i.e. lupulone) concentrations ≥9 ppm inhibited lactate production and mitigated the decrease in pH. Inulin-fermenting Strep. bovis was isolated from the β-acid-free suspensions after enrichment with inulin. The isolates were sensitive to β-acid, which decreased the viable number of streptococci in faecal suspensions, as well as growth, lactate production and the intracellular potassium of Strep. bovis in pure culture. Conclusions: These results are consistent with the hypothesis that hops β-acid prevented the growth of fructan-fermenting equine faecal bacteria, and that the mechanism of action was dissipation of the intracellular potassium of Strep. bovis. Significance and Impact of the Study: Bacterial hindgut fermentation of grass fructans has been linked to PAL and other metabolic disorders in horses. Hops β-acid is a potential phytochemical intervention to decrease the growth of bacteria responsible for PAL.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-339
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Microbiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2014


  • Carbohydrate overload
  • Feed additive
  • Horse
  • Natural product
  • Non-structural carbohydrates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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