Diversity of rumen bacteria in Canadian Cervids.

Gruninger, R.J., Sensen, C.W., Forster, R.J., and McAllister, T.A. (2014). "Diversity of rumen bacteria in Canadian Cervids.", PLoS ONE, 9(2: Article e89682). doi : 10.1371/journal.pone.0089682  Access to full text


Interest in the bacteria responsible for the breakdown of lignocellulosic feedstuffs within the rumen has increased due to their potential utility in industrial applications. To date, most studies have focused on bacteria from domesticated ruminants. We have expanded the knowledge of the microbial ecology of ruminants by examining the bacterial populations found in the rumen of non-domesticated ruminants found in Canada. Next-generation sequencing of 16S rDNA was employed to characterize the liquid and solid-associated bacterial communities in the rumen of elk (Cervus canadensis), and white tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). Despite variability in the microbial populations between animals, principle component and weighted UniFrac analysis indicated that bacterial communities in the rumen of elk and white tail deer are distinct. Populations clustered according to individual host animal and not the association with liquid or solid phase of the rumen contents. In all instances, Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes were the dominant bacterial phyla, although the relative abundance of these differed among ruminant species and between phases of rumen digesta, respectively. In the elk samples Bacteroidetes were more predominant in the liquid phase whereas Firmicutes was the most prevalent phyla in the solid digesta (P = 1×105). There were also statistically significant differences in the abundance of OTUs classified as Fibrobacteres (P = 5×103) and Spirochaetes (P = 3×104) in the solid digesta of the elk samples. We identified a number of OTUs that were classified as phylotypes not previously observed in the rumen environment. Our results suggest that although the bacterial diversity in wild North American ruminants shows overall similarities to domesticated ruminants, we observed a number of OTUs not previously described. Previous studies primarily focusing on domesticated ruminants do not fully represent the microbial diversity of the rumen and studies focusing on non-domesticated ruminants should be expanded.

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