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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2014 Jan;80(2):586-94. doi: 10.1128/AEM.03131-13. Epub 2013 Nov 8.

Rumen methanogenic genotypes differ in abundance according to host residual feed intake phenotype and diet type.

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Animal and Bioscience Research Department, Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Teagasc, Grange, Dunsany, Co. Meath, Ireland.

Erratum in

  • Appl Environ Microbiol. 2014 Mar;80(6):2039. Waters, Sinead M [corrected to Waters, SinĂ©ad M].


Methane is an undesirable end product of rumen fermentative activity because of associated environmental impacts and reduced host feed efficiency. Our study characterized the rumen microbial methanogenic community in beef cattle divergently selected for phenotypic residual feed intake (RFI) while offered a high-forage (HF) diet followed by a low-forage (LF) diet. Rumen fluid was collected from 14 high-RFI (HRFI) and 14 low-RFI (LRFI) animals at the end of both dietary periods. 16S rRNA gene clone libraries were used, and methanogen-specific tag-encoded pyrosequencing was carried out on the samples. We found that Methanobrevibacter spp. are the dominant methanogens in the rumen, with Methanobrevibacter smithii being the most abundant species. Differences in the abundance of Methanobrevibacter smithii and Methanosphaera stadtmanae genotypes were detected in the rumen of animals offered the LF compared to the HF diet while the abundance of Methanobrevibacter smithii genotypes was different between HRFI and LRFI animals irrespective of diet. Our results demonstrate that while a core group of methanogen operational taxonomic units (OTUs) exist across diet and phenotype, significant differences were observed in the distribution of genotypes within those OTUs. These changes in genotype abundance may contribute to the observed differences in methane emissions between efficient and inefficient animals.

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