Rumen microbial communities influence metabolic phenotypes in lambs

Diego P. Morgavi, Estelle Rahahao-Paris, Milka Popova, Julien Boccard, Kristian Fog Nielsen, Hamid Boudra

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    The rumen microbiota is an essential part of ruminants forging their nutrition and health. Despite its importance, it is not fully understood how various groups of rumen microbes affect host-microbe relationships and functions. The aim of the study was to simultaneously explore the rumen microbiota and the metabolic phenotype of lambs for identifying host-microbe associations and potential biomarkers of digestive functions. Twin lambs, separated in two groups after birth were exposed to practices (isolation and gavage with rumen fluid with protozoa or protozoa-depleted) that differentially restricted the acquisition of microbes. Rumen microbiota, fermentation parameters, digestibility and growth were monitored for up to 31 weeks of age. Microbiota assembled in isolation from other ruminants lacked protozoa and had low bacterial and archaeal diversity whereas digestibility was not affected. Exposure to adult sheep microbiota increased bacterial and archaeal diversity independently of protozoa presence. For archaea, Methanomassiliicoccales displaced Methanosphaera. Notwithstanding, protozoa induced differences in functional traits such as digestibility and significantly shaped bacterial community structure, notably Ruminococcaceae and Lachnospiraceae lower up to 6 folds, Prevotellaceae lower by ~40%, and Clostridiaceae and Veillonellaceae higher up to 10 folds compared to microbiota without protozoa. An orthogonal partial least squares-discriminant analysis of urinary metabolome matched differences in microbiota structure. Discriminant metabolites were mainly involved in amino acids and protein metabolic pathways while a negative interaction was observed between methylotrophic methanogens Methanomassiliicoccales and trimethylamine N-oxide. These results stress the influence of gut microbes on animal phenotype and show the potential of metabolomics for monitoring rumen microbial functions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number1060
    JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
    Number of pages13
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

    Bibliographical note

    This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.


    • Gut microbial colonization
    • Host-microbe interaction
    • Urine metabolome
    • Rumen archaea
    • Rumen bacteria
    • Rumen protozoa

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