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J Dairy Sci. 2010 Jan;93(1):279-87. doi: 10.3168/jds.2009-2207.

pH dynamics and bacterial community composition in the rumen of lactating dairy cows.

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1
School of Veterinary Medicine, Università di Bologna, Bologna, Italy.

Abstract

The influence of pH dynamics on ruminal bacterial community composition was studied in 8 ruminally cannulated Holstein cows fitted with indwelling electrodes that recorded pH at 10-min intervals over a 54-h period. Cows were fed a silage-based total mixed ration supplemented with monensin. Ruminal samples were collected each day just before feeding and at 3 and 6h after feeding. Solid and liquid phases were separated at collection, and extracted DNA was subjected to PCR amplification followed by automated ribosomal intergenic spacer analysis (ARISA). Although cows displayed widely different pH profiles (mean pH=6.11 to 6.51, diurnal pH range=0.45 to 1.39), correspondence analysis of the ARISA profiles revealed that 6 of the 8 cows showed very similar bacterial community compositions. The 2 cows having substantially different community compositions had intermediate mean pH values (6.30 and 6.33) and intermediate diurnal pH ranges (averaging 0.89 and 0.81 pH units). Fortuitously, these 2 cows alone also displayed milk fat depression, along with markedly higher ruminal populations of 1 bacterial operational taxonomic unit (OTU) and reduced populations of another ARISA amplicon. Cloning and sequencing of the elevated OTU revealed phylogenetic similarity to Megasphaera elsdenii, a species reportedly associated with milk fat depression. The higher populations of both M. elsdenii and OTU246 in these 2 cows were confirmed using quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) with species-specific primers, and the fraction of total bacterial rDNA copies contributed by these 2 taxa were very highly correlated within individual cows. By contrast, the fraction of total bacterial rDNA copies contributed by Streptococcus bovis and genus Ruminococcus, 2 taxa expected to respond to ruminal pH, did not differ among cows (mean= <0.01 and 10.6%, respectively, of rRNA gene copies, determined by qPCR). The data indicate that cows with widely differing pH profiles can have similar ruminal bacterial community compositions, and that milk fat depression can occur at intermediate ruminal pH. The results support recent reports that milk fat depression is associated with shifts in bacterial community composition in rumine and is specifically related to the relative abundance of Megasphaera elsdenii.

PMID:
20059926
DOI:
10.3168/jds.2009-2207
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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