Systems Biology and Ruminal Acidosis

  • Morteza H. Ghaffari
  • Ehsan Khafipour
  • Michael A. SteeleEmail author


Dairy cattle are commonly transitioned to a diet that is rich in rapidly fermentable carbohydrates (high-grain) to increase milk production in early lactation. When the shift in diet is too abrupt or the grain level too high, the rate of ruminal fermentation exceeds the rate of ruminal absorption and buffering, making the cow susceptible to ruminal acidosis. Most investigations of ruminal acidosis have taken a reductionist approach and focused on the impact on the rumen without considering other organs. However, the impact of grain-induced ruminal acidosis involves a whole animal inflammatory response and it is becoming increasingly evident that other gut compartments, namely the lower gut and visceral tissue such as the liver, also play an important role in the etiology of whole animal, multi-organ inflammatory response. Over the past decade, characterizing the gastrointestinal tract and whole animal inflammatory response to grain-induced ruminal acidosis has been initiated using a systems biology approach. To accomplish this, combinations of high-throughput omics-data (i.e., genomics, metabolomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics) have produced unique and meaningful advances in our understanding of the etiology of ruminal acidosis. This chapter will focus on the application of systems biology relating to ruminal acidosis, which provides meaningful insight into the ruminal microbial ecology, metabolome, and host gene expression changes during ruminal acidosis.


Ruminal acidosis Genomics Transcriptomics Metabolomics Proteomics 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Morteza H. Ghaffari
    • 1
  • Ehsan Khafipour
    • 2
  • Michael A. Steele
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional ScienceUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Departments of Animal Science and Medical MicrobiologyUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada

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