Microbial Ecology

, Volume 54, Issue 3, pp 424–438 | Cite as

Novel Rumen Bacterial Diversity in Two Geographically Separated Sub-Species of Reindeer

  • Monica A. SundsetEmail author
  • Kirsti E. Præsteng
  • Isaac K. O. Cann
  • Svein D. Mathiesen
  • Roderick I. Mackie


Svalbard reindeer (Rangifer tarandus platyrhynchus) live under austere nutritional conditions on the high-arctic archipelago of Svalbard, while semi-domesticated Norwegian reindeer (R. tarandus tarandus) migrate between lush coastal summer pastures and inland winter pastures with lichens on mainland Norway. Svalbard reindeer are known to have high rumen concentrations of cellulolytic bacteria, ranging from 15% of the viable population in summer to 35% in winter, compared to only 2.5% in Norwegian reindeer. Their rumen bacterial diversity was investigated through comparative analyses of 16S rRNA gene sequences (∼1.5 kb in length) generated from clone libraries (n = 121) and bacterial isolates (n = 51). LIBSHUFF comparisons of the composition of the two 16S rRNA libraries from Norwegian reindeer showed a significant effect of artificial feeding compared to natural pasture, but failed to yield significant differences between libraries from Norwegian reindeer and Svalbard reindeer. The combined sequences from reindeer were not significantly different from those reported in wild Thompson’s gazelle in Kenya but did differ from those reported in domestic cattle in Japan. A total of 90 distinct operational taxonomic units (OTUs) were identified by employing a criterion of 97% similarity, while the Chao1 index estimated the reindeer bacterial rumen population richness at 698 OTUs. The majority of the clone library sequences (92.5%) represented novel strains with <97% identity to any known sequence in the public database, most of them affiliated with the bacterial phylum Firmicutes (low G+C Gram-positives) related to the order Clostridiales (76.7%), while Gram-negative bacteria in the Bacteriodales (Prevotella–Bacteroides group) contributed to 22.5%. Also, six of the isolates were putatively novel strains, possibly representing new species in the Clostridium subphylum (cluster XIVa), Actinomyces and Butyrivibrio.


Clone Library Usnic Acid Rumen Fluid Natural Pasture Rumen Content 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This study was funded by The University of Tromsø, The Reindeer Husbandry Research Fund, The Norwegian Research Council, The Roald Amundsen Centre for Arctic Research (University of Tromsø), and the Centre for Sámi Studies (University of Tromsø). We thank Dr. Samuel Ohene-Adjei for his invaluable help through the various statistical software comparing 16S rDNA clone libraries, Dr. Rustam I. Aminov for his contribution in developing a protocol for DNA isolation from the reindeer rumen samples, Dr. Hisao Itabashi for providing data on clone libraries from domestic cattle, and Dr. Tove H. Aagnes Utsi for allowing access to her rumen bacterial isolates from reindeer on natural pasture. We are grateful to Dr. Andre Wright for critically reviewing the manuscript and for his helpful suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Monica A. Sundset
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Kirsti E. Præsteng
    • 1
  • Isaac K. O. Cann
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Svein D. Mathiesen
    • 5
    • 6
  • Roderick I. Mackie
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Arctic Biology and Institute of Medical BiologyUniversity of TromsøTromsøNorway
  2. 2.Department of Animal SciencesUniversity of IllinoisUrbana-ChampaignUSA
  3. 3.Department of MicrobiologyUniversity of IllinoisUrbana-ChampaignUSA
  4. 4.Institute for Genomic BiologyUniversity of IllinoisUrbana-ChampaignUSA
  5. 5.Section of Arctic Veterinary MedicineThe Norwegian School of Veterinary ScienceTromsøNorway
  6. 6.Saami University CollegeGuovdageaidnuNorway

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