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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2013 Mar;79(6):1777-86. doi: 10.1128/AEM.03115-12. Epub 2012 Dec 14.

Methanogens and methanogenesis in the rumens and ceca of lambs fed two different high-grain-content diets.

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INRA, UMR1213 Herbivores, Saint-Genès-Champanelle Clermont Université, VetAgro Sup, UMR Herbivores, Clermont-Ferrand, France.


The amount and nature of dietary starch are known to influence the extent and site of feed digestion in ruminants. However, how starch degradability may affect methanogenesis and methanogens along the ruminant's digestive tract is poorly understood. This study examined the diversity and metabolic activity of methanogens in the rumen and cecum of lambs receiving wheat or corn high-grain-content diets. Methane production in vivo and ex situ was also monitored. In vivo daily methane emissions (CH(4) g/day) were 36% (P < 0.05) lower in corn-fed lambs than in wheat-fed lambs. Ex situ methane production (μmol/h) was 4-fold higher for ruminal contents than for cecal contents (P < 0.01), while methanogens were 10-fold higher in the rumen than in the cecum (mcrA copy numbers; P < 0.01). Clone library analysis indicated that Methanobrevibacter was the dominant genus in both sites. Diet induced changes at the species level, as the Methanobrevibacter millerae-M. gottschalkii-M. smithii clade represented 78% of the sequences from the rumen of wheat-fed lambs and just about 52% of the sequences from the rumen of the corn-fed lambs. Diet did not affect mcrA expression in the rumen. In the cecum, however, expression was 4-fold and 2-fold lower than in the rumen for wheat- and corn-fed lambs, respectively. Though we had no direct evidence for compensation of reduced rumen methane production with higher cecum methanogenesis, the ecology of methanogens in the cecum should be better considered.

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