• Quantitative analysis of ruminal methanogenic microbial populations in beef cattle divergent in phenotypic residual feed intake (RFI) offered contrasting diets

      Carberry, Ciara A; Kenny, David A.; Kelly, Alan K; Waters, Sinead M.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; RSF 05 224 (Biomed Central, 2014-08-22)
      Background Methane (CH4) emissions in cattle are an undesirable end product of rumen methanogenic fermentative activity as they are associated not only with negative environmental impacts but also with reduced host feed efficiency. The aim of this study was to quantify total and specific rumen microbial methanogenic populations in beef cattle divergently selected for residual feed intake (RFI) while offered (i) a low energy high forage (HF) diet followed by (ii) a high energy low forage (LF) diet. Ruminal fluid was collected from 14 high (H) and 14 low (L) RFI animals across both dietary periods. Quantitative real time PCR (qRT-PCR) analysis was conducted to quantify the abundance of total and specific rumen methanogenic microbes. Spearman correlation analysis was used to investigate the association between the relative abundance of methanogens and animal performance, rumen fermentation variables and diet digestibility. Results Abundance of methanogens, did not differ between RFI phenotypes. However, relative abundance of total and specific methanogen species was affected (P < 0.05) by diet type, with greater abundance observed while animals were offered the LF compared to the HF diet. Conclusions These findings suggest that differences in abundance of specific rumen methanogen species may not contribute to variation in CH4 emissions between efficient and inefficient animals, however dietary manipulation can influence the abundance of total and specific methanogen species.