Skip to main content
ARS Home » Plains Area » Clay Center, Nebraska » U.S. Meat Animal Research Center » Genetics and Animal Breeding » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #366403

Research Project: Developing a Systems Biology Approach to Enhance Efficiency and Sustainability of Beef and Lamb Production

Location: Genetics and Animal Breeding

Title: Influence of host genetics in shaping the rumen bacterial community in beef cattle

item ABBAS, WASEEM - University Of Nebraska
item HOWARD, JEREMY - University Of Nebraska
item PAZ, HENRY - University Of Nebraska
item Hales Paxton, Kristin
item Wells, James - Jim
item Kuehn, Larry
item ERICKSON, GALEN - University Of Nebraska
item SPANGLER, MATTHEW - University Of Nebraska
item FERNANDO, SAMODHA - University Of Nebraska

Submitted to: Scientific Reports
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/19/2020
Publication Date: 9/14/2020
Citation: Abbas, W., Howard, J.T., Paz, H.A., Hales, K.E., Wells, J., Kuehn, L.A., Erickson, G.E., Spangler, M.L., Fernando, S.C. 2020. Influence of host genetics in shaping the rumen bacterial community in beef cattle. Scientific Reports. 10. Article 15101.

Interpretive Summary: For ruminants, over half of energy and protein requirements are met through the breakdown of feedstuffs by microbes in the rumen. These microbes convert plants that could not be normally digested and absorbed by an animal into beneficial nutrients through fermentation. Several studies have suggested that the composition of these microbes may vary with animal genetic factors; thus, selecting microbes that are more favorable for feed efficiency may be possible through host genetic selection. In this study, we identified regions of the cattle genome associated with increased or decreased levels of important bacterial families. As more research identifies advantages of these family groups, these regions can be used in selection programs to increase the efficient conversion of plant materials.

Technical Abstract: In light of recent host-microbial association studies, a consensus is evolving that species composition of the gastrointestinal microbiota is a polygenic trait governed by interactions between host genetic factors and the environment. Here, we investigated the effect of host genetic factors in shaping the bacterial species composition in the rumen by performing a genome-wide association study. Using a common set of 61,974 single-nucleotide polymorphisms found in cattle genomes (n = 586) and corresponding rumen bacterial community composition, we identified operational taxonomic units (OTUs), Families and Phyla with high heritability. The top associations (1-Mb windows) were located on 7 chromosomes. These regions were associated with the rumen microbiota in multiple ways; some (chromosome 19; position 3.0–4.0 Mb) are associated with closely related taxa (Prevotellaceae, Paraprevotellaceae, and RF16), some (chromosome 27; position 3.0–4.0 Mb) are associated with distantly related taxa (Prevotellaceae, Fibrobacteraceae, RF16, RFP12, S24-7, Lentisphaerae, and Tenericutes) and others (chromosome 23; position 0.0–1.0) associated with both related and unrelated taxa. The annotated genes associated with identified genomic regions suggest the associations observed are directed toward selective absorption of volatile fatty acids from the rumen to increase energy availability to the host. This study demonstrates that host genetics affects rumen bacterial community composition.