High-throughput methods redefine the rumen microbiome and its relationship with nutrition and metabolism

Joshua C. McCann, Tryon A. Wickersham, Juan J. Loor

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Diversity in the forestomach microbiome is one of the key features of ruminant animals. The diverse microbial community adapts to a wide array of dietary feedstuffs and management strategies. Understanding rumen microbiome composition, adaptation, and function has global implications ranging from climatology to applied animal production. Classical knowledge of rumen microbiology was based on anaerobic, culture-dependent methods. Next-generation sequencing and other molecular techniques have uncovered novel features of the rumen microbiome. For instance, pyrosequencing of the 16S ribosomal RNA gene has revealed the taxonomic identity of bacteria and archaea to the genus level, and when complemented with barcoding adds multiple samples to a single run. Whole genome shotgun sequencing generates true metagenomic sequences to predict the functional capability of a microbiome, and can also be used to construct genomes of isolated organisms. Integration of high-throughput data describing the rumen microbiome with classic fermentation and animal performance parameters has produced meaningful advances and opened additional areas for study. In this review, we highlight recent studies of the rumen microbiome in the context of cattle production focusing on nutrition, rumen development, animal efficiency, and microbial function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-125
Number of pages17
JournalBioinformatics and Biology Insights
StatePublished - Jun 8 2014


  • Cattle
  • Metabolism
  • Microbiome
  • Nutrition
  • Rumen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics


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