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Journal of Animal Science Abstract - Symposium

Analysis of the gut bacterial communities in beef cattle and their association with feed intake, growth, and efficiency123


This article in JAS

  1. Vol. 95 No. 7, p. 3215-3224
    Received: Sept 23, 2016
    Accepted: Jan 21, 2017
    Published: July 13, 2017

    4 Corresponding author(s):

  1. P. R. Myer 4*,
  2. H. C. Freetly,
  3. J. E. Wells,
  4. T. P. L. Smith and
  5. L. A. Kuehn
  1. * Department of Animal Science, University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, University of Tennessee, Knoxville 37996
     USDA5, ARS, U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, Clay Center, NE 68933


The impetus behind the global food security challenge is direct, with the necessity to feed almost 10 billion people by 2050. Developing a food-secure world, where people have access to a safe and sustainable food supply, is the principal goal of this challenge. To achieve this end, beef production enterprises must develop methods to produce more pounds of animal protein with less. Selection for feed-efficient beef cattle using genetic improvement technologies has helped to understand and improve the stayability and longevity of such traits within the herd. Yet genetic contributions to feed efficiency have been difficult to identify, and differing genetics, feed regimens, and environments among studies contribute to great variation and interpretation of results. With increasing evidence that hosts and their microbiomes interact in complex associations and networks, examining the gut microbial population variation in feed efficiency may lead to partially clarifying the considerable variation in the efficiency of feed utilization. The use of metagenomics and high-throughput sequencing has greatly impacted the study of the ruminant gut. The ability to interrogate these systems at great depth has permitted a greater understanding of the microbiological and molecular mechanisms involved in ruminant nutrition and health. Although the microbial communities of the reticulorumen have been well documented to date, our understanding of the populations within the gastrointestinal tract as a whole is limited. The composition and phylogenetic diversity of the gut microbial community are critical to the overall well-being of the host and must be determined to fully understand the relationship between the microbiomes within segments of the cattle gastrointestinal tract and feed efficiency, ADG, and ADFI. This review addresses recent research regarding the bacterial communities along the gastrointestinal tract of beef cattle; their association with ADG, ADFI, and feed efficiency; and the potential implications for beef production.

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