Danielsson R, Dicksved J, Sun L, Gonda H, Müller B, Schnürer A, Bertilsson J
Front Microbiol 8 (-) 226 [2017-02-17; online 2017-02-17]
Methane (CH4) is produced as an end product from feed fermentation in the rumen. Yield of CH4 varies between individuals despite identical feeding conditions. To get a better understanding of factors behind the individual variation, 73 dairy cows given the same feed but differing in CH4 emissions were investigated with focus on fiber digestion, fermentation end products and bacterial and archaeal composition. In total 21 cows (12 Holstein, 9 Swedish Red) identified as persistent low, medium or high CH4 emitters over a 3 month period were furthermore chosen for analysis of microbial community structure in rumen fluid. This was assessed by sequencing the V4 region of 16S rRNA gene and by quantitative qPCR of targeted Methanobrevibacter groups. The results showed a positive correlation between low CH4 emitters and higher abundance of Methanobrevibacter ruminantium clade. Principal coordinate analysis (PCoA) on operational taxonomic unit (OTU) level of bacteria showed two distinct clusters (P < 0.01) that were related to CH4 production. One cluster was associated with low CH4 production (referred to as cluster L) whereas the other cluster was associated with high CH4 production (cluster H) and the medium emitters occurred in both clusters. The differences between clusters were primarily linked to differential abundances of certain OTUs belonging to Prevotella. Moreover, several OTUs belonging to the family Succinivibrionaceae were dominant in samples belonging to cluster L. Fermentation pattern of volatile fatty acids showed that proportion of propionate was higher in cluster L, while proportion of butyrate was higher in cluster H. No difference was found in milk production or organic matter digestibility between cows. Cows in cluster L had lower CH4/kg energy corrected milk (ECM) compared to cows in cluster H, 8.3 compared to 9.7 g CH4/kg ECM, showing that low CH4 cows utilized the feed more efficient for milk production which might indicate a more efficient microbial population or host genetic differences that is reflected in bacterial and archaeal (or methanogens) populations.
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