Examination of the rumen epithelium of sheep by scanning electron microscopy revealed bacteria associated with the epithelial surface. Comparison of epithelial surfaces from 10 sheep revealed areas that were consistently densely covered with bacteria and other areas where the cover was consistently light. The bacterial populations were frequently of mixed morphological types, but areas populated with a single type were also observed. This finding, together with the discovery of bacterial forms not previously described in rumen contents, suggests that a specific flora may exist on the rumen epithelial surface. The functional significance of such a population is discussed
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