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J Anim Sci Biotechnol. 2019 Aug 19;10:66. doi: 10.1186/s40104-019-0375-0. eCollection 2019.

The ruminal bacterial community in lactating dairy cows has limited variation on a day-to-day basis.

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1Department of Bacteriology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 5159 MSB, 1550 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706 USA.
2Department of Population Health Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, 53726 USA.
3College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Statistical Consulting Lab, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, 53706 USA.
4Department of Biology, Centralia College, Centralia, WA 98531 USA.


Dairy cows rely on a complex ruminal microbiota to digest their host-indigestible feed. Our ability to characterize this microbiota has advanced significantly due to developments in next-generation sequencing. However, efforts to sample the rumen, which typically involves removing digesta directly from the rumen via a cannula, intubation, or rumenocentesis, is costly and labor intensive. As a result, the majority of studies characterizing the rumen microbiota are conducted on samples collected at a single time point. Currently, it is unknown whether there is significant day-to-day variation in the rumen microbiota, a factor that could strongly influence conclusion drawn from studies that sample at a single time point. To address this, we examined day-to-day changes in the ruminal microbiota of lactating dairy cows using next-generation sequencing to determine if single-day sampling is representative of sampling across 3 consecutive days. We sequenced single-day solid and liquid fractions of ruminal digesta collected over 3 consecutive days from 12 cannulated dairy cows during the early, middle, and late stages of a single lactation cycle using the V4 region of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene. We then generated 97% similarity operational taxonomic units (OTUs) from these sequences and showed that any of the individual samples from a given 3-day sampling period is equivalent to the mean OTUs determined from the combined 3-d data set. This finding was consistent for both solid and liquid fractions of the rumen, and we thus conclude that there is limited day-to-day variability in the rumen microbiota.


Bacterial community; Next-generation sequencing; Rumen microbiota

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interestsThe authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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