Next Generation Sequencing to Define Prokaryotic and Fungal Diversity in the Bovine Rumen

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A combination of Sanger and 454 sequences of small subunit rRNA loci were used to interrogate microbial diversity in the bovine rumen of 12 cows consuming a forage diet. Observed bacterial species richness, based on the V1-V3 region of the 16S rRNA gene, was between 1,903 to 2,432 species-level operational taxonomic units (OTUs) when 5,520 reads were sampled per animal. Eighty percent of species-level OTUs were dominated by members of the order Clostridiales, Bacteroidales, Erysipelotrichales and unclassified TM7. Abundance of Prevotella species varied widely among the 12 animals. Archaeal species richness, also based on 16S rRNA, was between 8 and 13 OTUs, representing 5 genera. The majority of archaeal OTUs (84%) found in this study were previously observed in public databases with only two new OTUs discovered. Observed rumen fungal species richness, based on the 18S rRNA gene, was between 21 and 40 OTUs with 98.4-99.9% of OTUs represented by more than one read, using Good's coverage.

Examination of the fungal community identified numerous novel groups. Prevotella and Tannerella were overrepresented in the liquid fraction of the rumen while Butyrivibrio and Blautia were significantly overrepresented in the solid fraction of the rumen. No statistical difference was observed between the liquid and solid fractions in biodiversity of archaea and fungi. The survey of microbial communities and analysis of cross-domain correlations suggested there is a far greater extent of microbial diversity in the bovine rumen than previously appreciated, and that next generation sequencing technologies promise to reveal novel species, interactions and pathways that can be studied further in order to better understand how rumen microbial community structure and function affects ruminant feed efficiency, biofuel production, and environmental impact.

Next generation sequencing to define prokaryotic and fungal diversity in the bovine rumen.
PloS one. 2012-01-01; 7.3: e48289.
PMID: 23144861

Funding provided through the USDA.