Host genetics influence the rumen microbiota and heritable rumen microbial features associate with feed efficiency in cattle

Fuyong LiLe Luo Guan


The symbiotic rumen microbiota is essential for the digestion of plant fibers and contributes to the variation of production and health traits in ruminants. However, to date, the heritability of rumen microbial features and host genetic components associated with the rumen microbiota, as well as whether such genetic components are animal performance relevant, are largely unknown. In the present study, we assessed rumen microbiota from a cohort of 709 beef cattle and showed that multiple factors including breed, sex, and diet drove the variation of rumen microbiota among animals. The diversity indices, the relative abundance of ~ 34% of microbial taxa (59 out of 174), and the copy number of total bacteria had a heritability estimate (h2) ≥ 0.15, suggesting that they are heritable elements affected by host additive genetics. These moderately heritable rumen microbial features were also found to be associated with host feed efficiency traits and rumen metabolic measures (volatile fatty acids). Moreover, 19 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) located on 12 bovine chromosomes were found to be associated with 14 (12 of them had h2 ≥ 0.15) rumen microbial taxa, and five of these SNPs were known quantitative trait loci for feed effi...Continue Reading


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