Track 1-02

Description

The tree legume Leucaena leucocephala (leucaena) is a high quality ruminant feed, vitally important for livestock production in the tropics despite the presence of mimosine in the leaves. This toxic non-protein amino acid has the potential to limit productivity and adversely affect the health of animals. The discovery and subsequent distribution in Australia of the ruminal bacterium Synergistes jonesii as an oral inoculum was shown in the 1980s to overcome these toxic effects. However, recent surveys of the status of toxicity worldwide; improved understanding of the chemistry and mode of action of the toxins; new techniques for molecular sequencing; and concerns about the efficacy of the in vitro inoculum; have cast doubt on some past understanding of leucaena toxicity and provides new insights into the geographical spread of S. jonesii. There is also confusion and ignorance regarding the occurrence and significance of toxicity in many countries worldwide. Ongoing research into the taxonomy and ecology of the Synergistes phylum, improved methods of inoculation, improved management solutions, along with awareness-raising extension activities, are vital for the future success of leucaena feeding systems.

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Leucaena Toxicity: A New Perspective on the Most Widely Used Forage Tree Legume

The tree legume Leucaena leucocephala (leucaena) is a high quality ruminant feed, vitally important for livestock production in the tropics despite the presence of mimosine in the leaves. This toxic non-protein amino acid has the potential to limit productivity and adversely affect the health of animals. The discovery and subsequent distribution in Australia of the ruminal bacterium Synergistes jonesii as an oral inoculum was shown in the 1980s to overcome these toxic effects. However, recent surveys of the status of toxicity worldwide; improved understanding of the chemistry and mode of action of the toxins; new techniques for molecular sequencing; and concerns about the efficacy of the in vitro inoculum; have cast doubt on some past understanding of leucaena toxicity and provides new insights into the geographical spread of S. jonesii. There is also confusion and ignorance regarding the occurrence and significance of toxicity in many countries worldwide. Ongoing research into the taxonomy and ecology of the Synergistes phylum, improved methods of inoculation, improved management solutions, along with awareness-raising extension activities, are vital for the future success of leucaena feeding systems.