Effects of Bacillus Subtilis-Zinc on Rats with Congenital Zinc Deficiency

  • Yanping Huang
  • Baowei WangEmail author
  • Guodong Liu
  • Wenhua Ge
  • Mingai Zhang
  • Bin Yue
  • Min Kong


This study investigated the effects of dietary supplementation of Bacillus subtilis-zinc on growth rates of the body and organs, nutrient utilization, microbial diversity in caecum, and contents of zinc (Zn) in organs of rats fed a Zn-deficient diet. In trial 1, 72 female pregnant SD rats were allocated to two groups and respectively fed the basal diet containing 13 mg Zn/kg, or the control diet containing 38 mg Zn/kg by supplementing ZnSO4 from day 10 of pregnancy until the offspring rats 24 days old. In trial 2, 18 offspring rats from the control group were fed the control diet. Ninety offspring from the Zn deficiency group were allocated to 5 groups and were fed the basal diet drenched with ZnSO4 solution (the total Zn 38 mg/kg), the basal diet only, or the basal diet drenched with Bacillus subtilis-Zn at doses of 2, 17, and 32 mg/kg Zn respectively. Each group had 3 replicates of 6 rats. The experiment lasted for 5 weeks. We found feeding young rats the Zn-deficient diet reduced feed intake, growth rate, unitization efficiencies of nitrogen (N), and Zn content in the organs. Administration of Bacillus subtilis-Zn to rats increased feed intake and the growth rates of the body and liver, kidney and heart, increased N utilization efficiency, and the contents of Zn in heart and brain but not in liver, regulated microbial diversity in the cecal content. The optimal amount of Bacillus subtilis-Zn ranged 15~20 mg Zn/kg, with the corresponding total Zn level at 28~33 mg/kg diet, the effects of which were superior to these by adding ZnSO4 at 38 mg/kg.


Bacillus subtilis-Zn Zn deficiency Feed intake Growth rate Nutrient utilization efficiency Tissues Zn content Ileum morphology Microbial diversity 



average daily gain


average daily feed intake


alkaline phosphatase


body weight


crypt depth


copper and zinc superoxide dismutase


crude protein


ether extract


feed/gain ratio


villus height


villus height/crypt depth ratio




Authors’ Contributions

Y.H., B.W., W.G., and M.Z. conceived and designed the experiments; Y.H., W.G., and B.Y. performed the experiments; Y.H., G.L., and M.K analyzed the data and wrote the paper. All of the authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Funding Information

This work was supported by a grant from the National Waterfowl Industrial Technology System Special Fund (CARS-42-14) and National Key R&D Program “Application and Demonstration of Green Waterfowl Efficient Safe Aquaculture Technology” (2018YFD0501501)

Compliance with Ethical Standards

The use of the animals and the experimental protocol for the animal experiments were approved by the Animal Ethics Committee of the College of Animal Science and Technology, Qingdao Agricultural University, China (protocol number 10/2018).

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Study Strengths

The present study is one of the few assessments of the biological effects of Bacillus subtilis-Zn used as a new trace element source. We confirmed that Bacillus subtilis-Zn is a superior source of Zn to ZnSO4.

Study Limitations

The results from the present study were obtained from the congenital zinc-deficient rats and might not be directly parallel to humans, so further research is needed.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of High Quality Waterfowl, Qingdao Agricultural University, Nutrition and Feed Laboratory of China Agriculture Research SystemQingdaoChina
  2. 2.Qingdao Agricultural UniversityQingdaoChina

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