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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: INTERVENTIONS TO REDUCE FOODBORNE PATHOGENS IN SWINE AND CATTLE

Location: Food and Feed Safety Research

Title: Board-invited review: Rumen microbiology: Leading the way in microbial ecology

Authors
item Krause, D -
item Nagaraja, T -
item Wright, A -
item Callaway, Todd

Submitted to: Journal of Animal Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 19, 2012
Publication Date: March 25, 2013
Repository URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/57280
Citation: Krause, D.O., Nagaraja, T.G., Wright, A.G., Callaway, T.R. 2013. Board-invited review: Rumen microbiology: Leading the way in microbial ecology. Journal of Animal Science. 91:331-341.

Interpretive Summary: Rumen microbiology as a research field pioneered microbial ecology analyses. Rumen microbiologists have had a major impact not only in delineating the complex ecosystem of the rumen, but also in clinical microbiology and in the exploration of a number of other anaerobic ecosystems, including the human hindgut. In this review, we examine some of the contributions to science that were first made in the rumen, which have not been recognized in a broader sense.

Technical Abstract: Robert Hungate, considered the father of rumen microbiology, was the first to initiate a systematic exploration of the microbial ecosystem of the rumen, but he was not alone. The techniques he developed to isolate and identify cellulose-digesting bacteria from the rumen have had a major impact not only in delineating the complex ecosystem of the rumen, but also in clinical microbiology and in the exploration of a number of other anaerobic ecosystems, including the human hindgut. Rumen microbiology has pioneered our understanding of much of microbial ecology and has broadened our knowledge of ecology in general, as well as improved the ability to feed ruminants more efficiently. The discovery of anaerobic fungi as a component of the ruminal flora disproved the central dogma in microbiology that all fungi are aerobic organisms. Further novel interactions between bacterial species such as nutrient cross feeding and interspecies H2 transfer were first described in ruminal microorganisms. The complexity and diversity present in the rumen make it an ideal testing ground for microbial theories (e.g., the effects of nutrient limitation and excess) and techniques (such as 16S rRNA), which have rewarded the investigators that have used this easily accessed ecosystem to understand larger truths. Our understanding of characteristics of the ruminal microbial population has opened new avenues of microbial ecology, such as the existence of hyperammonia-producing bacteria, and how they can be used to improve N efficiency in ruminants. In this review, we examine some of the contributions to science that were first made in the rumen, which have not been recognized in a broader sense.

Last Modified: 11/25/2014
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