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Invited review: Application of meta-omics to understand the dynamic nature of the rumen microbiome and how it responds to diet in ruminants

  • R. J. Gruninger (a1), G. O. Ribeiro (a2), A. Cameron (a1) and T. A. McAllister (a1)


Ruminants are unique among livestock due to their ability to efficiently convert plant cell wall carbohydrates into meat and milk. This ability is a result of the evolution of an essential symbiotic association with a complex microbial community in the rumen that includes vast numbers of bacteria, methanogenic archaea, anaerobic fungi and protozoa. These microbes produce a diverse array of enzymes that convert ingested feedstuffs into volatile fatty acids and microbial protein which are used by the animal for growth. Recent advances in high-throughput sequencing and bioinformatic analyses have helped to reveal how the composition of the rumen microbiome varies significantly during the development of the ruminant host, and with changes in diet. These sequencing efforts are also beginning to explain how shifts in the microbiome affect feed efficiency. In this review, we provide an overview of how meta-omics technologies have been applied to understanding the rumen microbiome, and the impact that diet has on the rumen microbial community.

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