Nav: Home

DNA study of cow stomachs could aid meat and dairy production

February 28, 2018

Meat and milk production from cattle could one day be boosted, thanks to analysis of microbes in cows' stomachs.

The study paves the way for research to understand which types of microbe - such as bacteria - are best at helping cattle to extract energy from their food, experts say.

It also identifies enzymes that are specialised for breaking down plant material, which could help in the quest to develop new biofuels.

Researchers led by the University of Edinburgh's Roslin Institute and Scotland's Rural College (SRUC) focused on microbes found in a cow's rumen - the first of its four stomachs.

The rumen is home to diverse strains of microorganisms, such as bacteria, archaea and fungi, which help the animal to extract energy and nutrients from its food.

The team used an advanced technique called metagenomics, which involves analysing the genetic composition all of the microbes that exist within an organism, in this case a cow.

They studied samples of rumen gut contents from 43 cows and identified 913 diverse strains of microbes living in the rumen.

Most of the microbes uncovered have never been seen before and may have potential uses in the biofuels and biotechnology industries.

By analysing their genetic information, the team pinpointed previously unknown enzymes that can extract energy and nutrition from plant material.

Beef and dairy cattle, and other milk-producing ruminants, provide food and nutrition to billions of people worldwide.

Understanding how these animals convert plant-based diets into energy will be vital for securing the future of the world's food supplies, experts say.

The research, published in the journal Nature Communications, was carried out in collaboration with experts at The Rowett Institute at the University of Aberdeen.

The Roslin Institute receives strategic funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Professor Mick Watson, of the University of Edinburgh's Roslin Institute, said: "This has been a truly fascinating study, and really we are only beginning to understand what these microbes do. The fact most of them were very different to microbes that have already been discovered surprised us, so we just can't wait to study them further. If we can improve the efficiency of digestion in cows and other ruminants, we may be able to produce more food for people whilst using fewer resources. This is a key aim of improving global food security."

Professor Rainer Roehe from SRUC said: "The newly identified microbial species in the rumen of beef cattle will greatly improve our understanding of how the rumen microbial ecosystem works. Using breeding and nutritional interventions, we will be able to use this information to help improve cattle health and performance throughout the world."
-end-


University of Edinburgh

Related Bacteria Articles:

Conducting shell for bacteria
Under anaerobic conditions, certain bacteria can produce electricity. This behavior can be exploited in microbial fuel cells, with a special focus on wastewater treatment schemes.
Controlling bacteria's necessary evil
Until now, scientists have only had a murky understanding of how these relationships arise.
Bacteria take a deadly risk to survive
Bacteria need mutations -- changes in their DNA code -- to survive under difficult circumstances.
How bacteria hunt other bacteria
A bacterial species that hunts other bacteria has attracted interest as a potential antibiotic, but exactly how this predator tracks down its prey has not been clear.
Chlamydia: How bacteria take over control
To survive in human cells, chlamydiae have a lot of tricks in store.
Stress may protect -- at least in bacteria
Antibiotics harm bacteria and stress them. Trimethoprim, an antibiotic, inhibits the growth of the bacterium Escherichia coli and induces a stress response.
'Pulling' bacteria out of blood
Magnets instead of antibiotics could provide a possible new treatment method for blood infection.
New findings detail how beneficial bacteria in the nose suppress pathogenic bacteria
Staphylococcus aureus is a common colonizer of the human body.
Understanding your bacteria
New insight into bacterial cell division could lead to advancements in the fight against harmful bacteria.
Bacteria are individualists
Cells respond differently to lack of nutrients.

Related Bacteria Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...