Rumen Bacterial Diversity Dynamics Associated with Changing from Bermudagrass Hay to Grazed Winter Wheat Diets
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Rumen bacterial communities in forage-fed and grazing cattle continually adapt to a wide range of changing dietary composition, nutrient density, and environmental conditions. We hypothesized that very distinct community assemblages would develop between the fiber and liquid fractions of rumen contents in animals transitioned from bermudagrass hay diet to a grazed wheat diet. To address this hypothesis, we designed an experiment utilizing a 16S-based bTEFAP pyrosequencing technique to characterize and elucidate changes in bacterial diversity among the fiber and liquid rumen fractions and whole rumen contents of 14 (Angus × Hereford) ruminally cannulated steers sequentially fed bermudagrass hay (Cynodon dactylon; 34 days) and grazing wheat forage (28 days). Bermudagrass hay was a conserved C4 perennial grass lower in protein and higher in fiber (11% and 67%, respectively) content than grazed winter wheat (Triticum aestivum), a C3 annual grass with higher protein (20%) and a large (66%) soluble fraction. Significant differences in the OTU estimates (Chao1, Ace, and Rarefaction) were detected between fractions of both diets, with bermudagrass hay supporting greater diversity than wheat forage. Sequences were compared with a 16S database using BLASTn and assigned sequences to respective genera and genera-like units based on the similarity value to known sequences in the database. Predominant genera were Prevotella (up to 33%) and Rikenella-like (up to 28%) genera on the bermudagrass diet and Prevotella (up to 56%) genus on the wheat diet irrespective of the fractions. Principle component analyses accounted for over 95% of variation in 16S estimated bacterial community composition in all three fractions and clearly differentiated communities associated with each diet. Overall, bermudagrass hay diets clustered more clearly than wheat diets. These data are the first to explore bacterial diversity dynamics in a common population of animals in response to contrasting grass forage diets.
KeywordsLiquid Fraction Neutral Detergent Fiber Fiber Fraction Bermudagrass Rumen Fluid
Funding for this research was provided by Diamond V Mills, Inc and Texas AgriLife Research. We wish to thank the farming crew from the Vernon Texas AgriLife Research Center for preparation and planting of the wheat used in this experiment and L. Stillwell for laboratory assistance.
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