Repository logo




Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title




Degree Level



ABSTRACT Two experiments were conducted to determine the effects of various forage to concentrate ratios on the rumen microbial ecosystem and rumen fermentation parameters using culture-independent methods. In the first experiment, cattle were fed either a high concentrate (HC) or a high concentrate without forage (HCNF) diet. Comparison of rumen fermentation parameters between these two diets showed that duration of time spent below pH 5.2 and rumen osmolality were higher for HCNF. Calculations using Simpson’s index showed a greater diversity of dominant species for HCNF than in HC based on 16S rRNA PCR-DGGE. Real-time real-time PCR showed populations of Fibrobacter succinogenes (P=0.01) were lower in HCNF than HC diets. Ruminococcus spp., F. succinogenes and Selenomonas ruminantium were present at higher (P≤0.05) concentrations in solid than in liquid digesta in both diets. The second experiment compared cattle as they adapted from a strictly forage to a concentrate diet, after which they were subject to an acidotic challenge and a recovery period (Forage, Mixed Forage, High Grain, Acidosis and Recovery). A total of 153,621 high-quality bacterial sequences were obtained from biopsied rumen epithelium, and 407,373 sequences from the solid and liquid phases of rumen contents. Only 14 epithelial genera representing >1.0% of the epimural population differed (P ≤ 0.05) among dietary treatments. However, clustering showed a closer relation in bacterial profiles for the Forage and Mixed Forage diets as compared to the High Grain, Acidosis and Recovery diets. Several epithelial identified genera including Atopobium, Desulfocurvus, Fervidicola, Lactobacillus and Olsenella increased as a result of acidosis. However, any changes in bacterial populations during the acidosis challenge were not sustained during the recovery period. This indicates a high level of stability within the rumen epimural community. An epithelial core microbiome was determined which explained 21% of the enumerable rumen population across all treatment samples. Cluster analysis of the solid and liquid phase rumen bacterial showed that these populations differed (P ≤ 0.10) between forage and grain-based diets. Rumen core microbiome analysis found 32 OTU’s representing 10 distinct bacterial taxa in whole rumen contents for all dietary treatments. Heifers that developed clinical acidosis vs the subclinical acidosis showed increases in the genera Acetitomaculum, Lactobacillus, Prevotella, and Streptococcus. Variation in microbial taxa as an effect of both treatment and animal was evident in the solid and liquid fractions of the rumen digesta. However, impacts of a dietary treatment were transient and despite an acidotic challenge, rumen microbiota were able to recover within a week of perturbation. The bacterial populations in the rumen are highly diverse as indicated by DGGE analysis and showed clear distinction between not only dietary treatments, individual animals, but also between epithelial, liquid and solid associated populations on the same diet. Molecular techniques provide an increased understanding of the impact of dietary change on the nature of rumen bacterial populations and conclusions derived using these techniques may not match those previously derived using traditional laboratory culturing techniques.



real-time PCR, DGG, pyrosequencing, cattle, rumen



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Animal and Poultry Science


Animal Science


Part Of