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ARS Home » Plains Area » Bushland, Texas » Conservation and Production Research Laboratory » Livestock Nutrient Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #393268

Research Project: Strategies to Manage Feed Nutrients, Reduce Gas Emissions, and Promote Soil Health for Beef and Dairy Cattle Production Systems of the Southern Great Plains

Location: Livestock Nutrient Management Research

Title: Microbial community structure from southern high plains beef cattle feedyard manure and relationship with nitrous oxide emissions

item Waldrip, Heidi
item PARKER, DAVID - West Texas A & M University
item MILLER, SIERRA - University Of Texas Medical Branch
item Durso, Lisa
item Miller, Daniel
item CASEY, KENNETH - Texas A&M Agrilife
item Woodbury, Bryan
item Spiehs, Mindy

Submitted to: Agrosystems, Geosciences & Environment
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/24/2022
Publication Date: 8/12/2022
Citation: Waldrip, H., Parker, D., Miller, S., Durso, L.M., Miller, D.N., Casey, K., Woodbury, B.L., Spiehs, M.J. 2022. Microbial community structure from southern high plains beef cattle feedyard manure and relationship with nitrous oxide emissions. Agrosystems, Geosciences & Environment. 5(3). Article e20292.

Interpretive Summary: Manure microbes influence nitrous oxide losses from beef cattle feedyards. Nitrous oxide is a potent greenhouse gas that can originate from beef cattle manure. However, feedyard nitrous oxide emissions are highly variable and somewhat unpredictable. Therefore, a group of researchers from ARS in Bushland, TX, Clay Center, NE and Lincoln, NE evaluated the microbial community in beef manure and its relationship to factors and processes involved in nitrous oxide production. To reduce feedyard nitrous oxide losses we first need to understand the microbes involved in its production and how sampling depth, time, temperature, and water content affected the microbial community of feedyard manure. A specific class of bacteria called Firmicutes increased its population to coincide with high nitrous oxide fluxes following the water addition and increased temperatures. Gene copies of the rate limiting enzyme from bacteria were greater than those from fungi, possibly indicating that bacteria are more important than fungi to controlling nitrous oxide emissions from beef manure. These results are of interest to other soil scientists and agricultural engineers as studies proceed to better understand nitrous oxide emissions and thus develop mitigation strategies.

Technical Abstract: Modern molecular techniques enable characterization of the microbial biome in livestock manure, from which there is particular concern over emission of greenhouse gases. This study evaluated how sampling depth, time, temperature, and artificial rainfall affected microbial community structure in feedyard manure, and relationships between the manure biome and known parameters related to nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions. In three large incubation chambers, maintained at different temperatures that received two applications of artificial rainfall, we evaluated manure microbiome composition and abundance of N2O-producing enzymes (nirK and nirS) using quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). These data were used with previously published data from the same study on N2O emissions and assessment of manure physicochemical properties, denitrification enzyme activity (DEA), and nitrification activity (NA). Microbiome composition was Firmicutes (50%), followed by 32% Actinobacteria, 11% Proteobacteria, 5% Bacteroidetes, 1% Chloroflexi, and small populations (<0.5%) of Planctomycetes, Deinococcus-Thermus, Gemmatimonadetes, Verrucomicrobia, Tenericutes, and other organisms. Average bacterial populations varied largely as a function of sampling depth and time. Firmicutes increases tended to coincide with high N2O emissions. Overall, the largest change observed was increased Proteobacteria at 5–10 cm, where relative abundance increased from 10% (17.2 °C) to 24% (46.2 °C) over time and with increased temperature. Firmicutes and Actinobacteria predominated the microbial community of manure, but favorable conditions may lead to increases in Bacteroidetes, Proteobacteria, and Chloroflexi, which could influence N cycling and N2O emissions from feedyards. Copy numbers of nirS at the beginning of the experiment were higher than nirK. Differences in concentrations of nirK and nirS indicated that denitrifying enzymes in feedyard manure, particularly nirS, were sensitive to environmental changes.