The bovine rumen microbiome essentially enables the hosting ruminant animal to digest its feed by degrading and fermenting it.In this sense, this relationship is unique and different from the host-microbiome interactions that have evolved in humans and nonherbivorous animals, where such dependence does not exist (1, 2).As the human population is continually increasing, this could have important implications for food security issues as an effort toward replenishing food sources available for human consumption while lowering environmental impact on a global scale.
The findings presented here suggest that ruminant genetics and physiology are correlated with microbiome structure and that host genetics may shape the microbiome landscape by enriching for phylogenetically related taxa that may occupy a unique niche.
In this study, the animals’ progeny groups were correlated with methane emissions and with archaeon/bacterium ratio (21), possibly suggesting that host genetics is connected to the ratio between these two domains.
A later research study on deer hybrids showed that hybrid offspring have different microbial compositions than their parents.
Our recent efforts, as well as those of others, have shown that this microbial community’s composition and functionality are tightly linked to the cow’s capacity to harvest energy from its feed, as well as to other physiological traits.
In this study, we identified microbial groups that are heritable and also linked to the cow’s production parameters.