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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2012 Feb;78(4):1203-14. doi: 10.1128/AEM.05114-11. Epub 2011 Dec 9.

Impact of feed efficiency and diet on adaptive variations in the bacterial community in the rumen fluid of cattle.

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Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


Limited knowledge of the structure and activities of the ruminal bacterial community prevents the understanding of the effect of population dynamics on functional bacterial groups and on host productivity. This study aimed to identify particular bacteria associated with host feed efficiency in steers with differing diets and residual feed intake (RFI) using culture-independent methods: PCR-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) and quantitative real-time PCR analysis. PCR-DGGE profiles were generated from the ruminal fluid of 55 steers fed a low-energy-density diet and then switched to a high-energy-density diet. Bacterial profile comparisons by multivariate statistical analysis showed a trend only for RFI-related clusters on the high-energy diet. When steers (n = 19) belonging to the same RFI group under both diets were used to identify specific bacterial phylotypes related to feed efficiency traits, correlations were detected between dry matter intake, average daily gain, and copy numbers of the 16S rRNA gene of Succinivibrio sp. in low-RFI (efficient) steers, whereas correlations between Robinsoniella sp. and RFI (P < 0.05) were observed for high-RFI (inefficient) animals. Eubacterium sp. differed significantly (P < 0.05) between RFI groups that were only on the high-energy diet. Our work provides a comprehensive framework to understand how particular bacterial phylotypes contribute to differences in feed efficiency and ultimately influence host productivity, which may either depend on or be independent from diet factors.

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