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posted on 2018-02-27, 04:32 authored by Helen M. Golder, Jennifer M. Thomson, Stuart E. Denman, Chris S. McSweeney, Ian J. Lean

Dairy heifers were subjected to a non-life-threatening challenge designed to induce ruminal acidosis by feeding grain and sugar. Large among animal variation in clinical signs of acidosis, rumen metabolite concentrations, and the rumen microbiome occurred. This exploratory study investigates sources of the variation by examining associations between the genome, metabolome, and microbiome, albeit with a limited population. The broader objective is to provide a rationale for a larger field study to identify markers for susceptibility to ruminal acidosis. Initially, heifers (n = 40) allocated to five feed additive groups were fed 20-days pre-challenge with a total mixed ration and additives. Fructose (0.1% of bodyweight/day) was added for the last 10 days pre-challenge. On day 21 heifers were challenged with 1.0% of bodyweight dry matter wheat + 0.2% of bodyweight fructose + additives. Rumen samples were collected via stomach tube weekly (day 0, 7, and 14) and at five times over 3.6 h after challenge and analyzed for pH and volatile fatty acid, ammonia, D-, and L-lactate concentrations. Relative abundance of bacteria and archaea were determined using Illumina MiSeq. Genotyping was undertaken using a 150K Illumina SNPchip. Genome-wide association was performed for metabolite and microbiome measures (n = 33). Few genome associations occurred with rumen pH, concentration of acetate, propionate, total volatile fatty acids, or ammonia, or the relative abundance of the Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, and Spirochaetes phyla. Metabolites and microbial phyla that had markers associated and quantitative trait loci (QTL) were: acetate to propionate ratio (A:P), D-, L-, and total lactate, butyrate, acidosis eigenvalue, Actinobacteria, Chloroflexi, Euryarchaeota, Fibrobacteres, Planctomycetes, Proteobacteria, and Tenericutes. A putative genomic region overlapped for Actinobacteria, Euryarchaeota, and Fibrobacteres and covered the region that codes for matrix extracellular phosphoglycoprotein (MEPE). Other overlapping regions were: (1) Chloroflexi, Tenericutes, and A:P, (2) L- and total lactate and Actinobacteria, and (3) Actinobacteria, Euryarchaeota, Fibrobacteres, and A:P. Genome-wide associations with the metabolome and microbiome occurred despite the small population, suggesting that markers for ruminal acidosis susceptibility exist. The findings may explain some of the variation in metabolomic and microbial data and provide a rationale for a larger study with a population that has variation in acidosis.