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Fibre digestion by rumen microbiota — a review of recent metagenomic and metatranscriptomic studies

Terry, S.A., Badhan, A., Wang, Y., Chaves, A.V., McAllister, T.A. (2019). Fibre digestion by rumen microbiota — a review of recent metagenomic and metatranscriptomic studies, 99(4), 678-692.


© Her Majesty the Queen in right of Canada 2019.Plant biomass is the most abundant renewable resource on the planet, and the biopolymers of lignocellulose are the foundation of ruminant production systems. Optimizing the saccharification of lignocellulosic feeds is a crucial step in their bioconversion to ruminant protein. Plant cell walls are chemically heterogeneous structures that have evolved to provide structural support and protection to the plant. Ruminants are the most efficient digesters of lignocellulose due to a rich array of bacteria, archaea, fungi, and protozoa within the rumen and lower digestive tract. Metagenomic and metatranscriptomic studies have enhanced the current understanding of the composition, diversity, and function of the rumen microbiome. There is particular interest in identifying the carbohydrate-active enzymes responsible for the ruminal degradation of plant biomass. Understanding the roles of cellulosomes-and polysaccharide-utilising loci in ruminal fibre degradation could provide insight into strategies to enhance forage utilisation by ruminants. Despite advancements in “omics” technology, the majority of rumen microorganisms are still uncharacterised, and their ability to act synergistically is still not understood. By advancing our current knowledge of rumen fibre digestion, there may be opportunity to further improve the productive performance of ruminants fed forage diets.

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