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Effect of urea-supplemented diets on the ruminal bacterial and archaeal community composition of finishing bulls


In this study, we evaluated the effects of urea-supplemented diets on the ruminal bacterial and archaeal communities of finishing bulls using sequencing technology. Eighteen bulls were fed a total mixed ration based on maize silage and concentrate (40:60) and randomly allocated to one of three experimental diets: a basal diet with no urea (UC, 0%), a basal diet supplemented with low urea levels (UL, 0.8% dry matter (DM) basis), and a basal diet supplemented with high urea levels (UH, 2% DM basis). All treatments were iso-nitrogenous (14% crude protein, DM basis) and iso-metabolic energetic (ME = 11.3 MJ/kg, DM basis). After a 12-week feeding trial, DNA was isolated from ruminal samples and used for 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. For bacteria, the most abundant phyla were Firmicutes (44.47%) and Bacteroidetes (41.83%), and the dominant genera were Prevotella (13.17%), Succiniclasticum (4.24%), Butyrivibrio (2.36%), and Ruminococcus (1.93%). Urea supplementation had no effect on most phyla (P > 0.05), while there was a decreasing tendency in phylum TM7 with increasing urea levels (P = 0.0914). Compared to UC, UH had lower abundance of genera Butyrivibrio and Coprococcus (P = 0.0092 and P = 0.0222, respectively). For archaea, the most abundant phylum was Euryarchaeota (99.81% of the sequence reads), and the most abundant genus was Methanobrevibacter (90.87% of the sequence reads). UH increased the abundance of genus Methanobrevibacter and Methanobacterium (P = 0.0299 and P = 0.0007, respectively) and decreased the abundance of vadinCA11 (P = 0.0151). These findings suggest that urea-supplemented diets were associated with a shift in archaeal biodiversity and changes in the bacterial community in the rumen.

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This work was supported by grant from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31672449 and 31372335), the China Agricultural Research System (CARS-38), and the Special Fund for Agro-scientific Research in the Public Interest (201503134).

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Correspondence to Zhenming Zhou.

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This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors. Experiments were performed in strict accordance with the Regulations for the Administration of Affairs Concerning Experimental Animals (The State Science and Technology Commission of P. R. China, 1988). All animal procedures were approved by the China Agricultural University’s Animal Welfare and Ethical Committee (Permit No. DK1066).

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Zhou, Z., Meng, Q., Li, S. et al. Effect of urea-supplemented diets on the ruminal bacterial and archaeal community composition of finishing bulls. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 101, 6205–6216 (2017).

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  • Urea
  • Ruminal bacterial community
  • Ruminal archaeal community
  • Sequencing
  • Finishing bulls