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Characterizing feed at a cellular level

Aug 2006
Traditionally, conventional chemical analysis has been used to determine feed composition and to predict nutritive and energy values. Although this technique can identify the total chemical composition, it cannot detect intrinsic structures, and it fails to link structural information to chemical information.

Peiqiang Yu of the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada, has reviewed the use of synchrotron-based Fourier transform infrared microspectroscopy to characterize feed inherent structures at a cellular level and to relate the data to feed quality, nutritive value and digestive behavior in animals. This technique can provide information about tissue composition, structure, chemistry and environment simultaneously.

In one study, researchers focused mid-infrared synchrotron light onto samples of feed and used absorbance spectra to identify chemical compounds. In particular, they used the approach to reveal molecular-chemical features of protein secondary structures in flaxseed tissue. The technology allows researchers to view not only visible images, but also the distribution and concentration of biological components in various feeds.

Yu notes several implications of the studies, including the ability to chemically define intrinsic structures of feed and to compare feeds according to their spectroscopic features. He believes that the synchrotron-based technology can be used to establish relationships between the inherent structure and nutritive value of protein, and that it will contribute to molecular-structural-chemical research. (Archives of Animal Nutrition, June 2006, pp. 229-244.)

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