Ruminal bacteria and protozoa, and cell-free rumen fluid, were tested for the presence of enzymes involved in the degradation of the fungal cell wall. Protozoal homogenate obtained by ultrasonication showed chitinase (EC and -acetyl-β-glucosaminidase (EC activities when assayed with fluorogenic 4-methylumbelliferyl substrates. The chitinase activity was predominantly of the ‘exo’-type. Lysozyme (EC and 1,3-β-glucanase (EC activities were also present in this fraction. All these activities, except lysozyme activity, were recovered mainly in the supernatant fraction of the homogenate (approximately 85% of the total activity). Lysozyme showed the same amount of activity in the precipitate and supernatant fractions. Bacterial homogenates had -acetyl-β-glucosaminidase activity in both supernatant and precipitate fractions. The specific activity was one-third that of the protozoa. Bacteria able to grow in a medium with chitin as the sole carbon source were recognized and counted. Cell-free rumen fluid was unable to degrade any of the substrates tested.


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