University of Arkansas, Fayetteville Division of Agriculture


The bovine rumen microbiota is very important in terms of animal functionality and digestion. The fermentative capability of the rumen provides means for the digestion of complex plant material that is indigestible by humans. The rumen microbiota is made up of billions of microorganisms, primarily bacteria, that digest and ferment feed into volatile fatty acids and bacterial protein for the animal’s energy and protein needs, respectively. Changes to the rumen microbiota can have a direct measure on animal growth, health, and performance. The possibility of productivity boosts in the cattle industry make the rumen microbiome a hot topic in the field of livestock research. A consistent and accurate method for the fractionation of rumen contents would improve the ability for researchers to detect differences found in rumen microbiomes among different animals and treatments. The objective of this study was to determine the view that five different sampling methods of rumen contents would have on the rumen microbiome. Steers fed hay and fresh pasture wheat were used, which also highlights differences found between diets. Next generation sequencing was used to sequence the V4 region of bacterial 16sRNA. Results were analyzed via Mothur, an open source command-line used to analyze sequencing data in microbial communities, and visualized using R, a command-line software used for statistical analysis and graphical display. The results of this study provided no significant differences between fractionation methods; however, noteworthy differences were observed between the two diets. Due to the lack of differences between methods, the best method was chosen based on time, efficiency, and simplicity. The results of this study allow research scientists to pick the method of choice without sacrificing the accuracy of results.