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1.  Diversity of methanogens in the hindgut of captive white rhinoceroses, Ceratotherium simum 
BMC Microbiology  2013;13:207.
Background
The white rhinoceros is on the verge of extinction with less than 20,200 animals remaining in the wild. In order to better protect these endangered animals, it is necessary to better understand their digestive physiology and nutritional requirements. The gut microbiota is nutritionally important for herbivorous animals. However, little is known about the microbial diversity in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) of the white rhinoceros. Methanogen diversity in the GIT may be host species-specific and, or, function-dependent. To assess methanogen diversity in the hindgut of white rhinoceroses, an archaeal 16S rRNA gene clone library was constructed from pooled PCR products obtained from the feces of seven adult animals.
Results
Sequence analysis of 153 archaeal 16S rRNA sequences revealed 47 unique phylotypes, which were assigned to seven operational taxonomic units (OTUs 1 to 7). Sequences assigned to OTU-7 (64 out of 153 total sequencs – 42%) and OTU-5 (18%, 27/153) had 96.2% and 95.5% identity to Methanocorpusculum labreanum, respectively, making Methanocorpusculum labreanum the predominant phylotype in these white rhynoceroses. Sequences belonging to OTU-6 (27%, 42/153) were related (97.6%) to Methanobrevibacter smithii. Only 4% of the total sequences (6/153) were assigned to Methanosphaera stadtmanae (OTU-1). Sequences belonging to OTU-2 (4%, 6/153), OTU-3 (3%, 5/153) and OTU-4 (2%, 3/153) were distantly related (87.5 to 88,4%) to Methanomassiliicoccus luminyensis and were considered to be novel species or strains that have yet-to-be cultivated and characterized.
Conclusion
Phylogenetic analysis indicated that the methanogen species in the hindgut of white rhinoceroses were more similar to those in the hindgut of horses. Our findings may help develop studies on improving the digestibility of forage for sustainable management and better health of these endangered animals.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-13-207
PMCID: PMC3846858  PMID: 24228793
White rhinoceros; Methanogen; Gut microbial diversity
2.  Cellulolytic Bacteria in the Foregut of the Dromedary Camel (Camelus dromedarius) 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2012;78(24):8836-8839.
Foregut digesta from five feral dromedary camels were inoculated into three different enrichment media: cotton thread, filter paper, and neutral detergent fiber. A total of 283 16S rRNA gene sequences were assigned to 33 operational taxonomic units by using 99% species-level identity. LIBSHUFF revealed significant differences in the community composition across all three libraries.
doi:10.1128/AEM.02420-12
PMCID: PMC3502909  PMID: 23042173
3.  Comparison of methanogen diversity of yak (Bos grunniens) and cattle (Bos taurus) from the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau, China 
BMC Microbiology  2012;12:237.
Background
Methane emissions by methanogen from livestock ruminants have significantly contributed to the agricultural greenhouse gas effect. It is worthwhile to compare methanogen from “energy-saving” animal (yak) and normal animal (cattle) in order to investigate the link between methanogen structure and low methane production.
Results
Diversity of methanogens from the yak and cattle rumen was investigated by analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences from rumen digesta samples from four yaks (209 clones) and four cattle (205 clones) from the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau area (QTP). Overall, a total of 414 clones (i.e. sequences) were examined and assigned to 95 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) using MOTHUR, based upon a 98% species-level identity criterion. Forty-six OTUs were unique to the yak clone library and 34 OTUs were unique to the cattle clone library, while 15 OTUs were found in both libraries. Of the 95 OTUs, 93 putative new species were identified. Sequences belonging to the Thermoplasmatales-affiliated Linage C (TALC) were found to dominate in both libraries, accounting for 80.9% and 62.9% of the sequences from the yak and cattle clone libraries, respectively. Sequences belonging to the Methanobacteriales represented the second largest clade in both libraries. However, Methanobrevibacter wolinii (QTPC 110) was only found in the cattle library. The number of clones from the order Methanomicrobiales was greater in cattle than in the yak clone library. Although the Shannon index value indicated similar diversity between the two libraries, the Libshuff analysis indicated that the methanogen community structure of the yak was significantly different than those from cattle.
Conclusion
This study revealed for the first time the molecular diversity of methanogen community in yaks and cattle in Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau area in China. From the analysis, we conclude that yaks have a unique rumen microbial ecosystem that is significantly different from that of cattle, this may also help to explain why yak produce less methane than cattle.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-12-237
PMCID: PMC3502369  PMID: 23078429
4.  Insight into the bacterial gut microbiome of the North American moose (Alces alces) 
BMC Microbiology  2012;12:212.
Background
The work presented here provides the first intensive insight into the bacterial populations in the digestive tract of the North American moose (Alces alces). Eight free-range moose on natural pasture were sampled, producing eight rumen samples and six colon samples. Second generation (G2) PhyloChips were used to determine the presence of hundreds of operational taxonomic units (OTUs), representing multiple closely related species/strains (>97% identity), found in the rumen and colon of the moose.
Results
A total of 789 unique OTUs were used for analysis, which passed the fluorescence and the positive fraction thresholds. There were 73 OTUs, representing 21 bacterial families, which were found exclusively in the rumen samples: Lachnospiraceae, Prevotellaceae and several unclassified families, whereas there were 71 OTUs, representing 22 bacterial families, which were found exclusively in the colon samples: Clostridiaceae, Enterobacteriaceae and several unclassified families. Overall, there were 164 OTUs that were found in 100% of the samples. The Firmicutes were the most dominant bacteria phylum in both the rumen and the colon. Microarray data available at ArrayExpress, accession number E-MEXP-3721.
Conclusions
Using PhyloTrac and UniFrac computer software, samples clustered into two distinct groups: rumen and colon, confirming that the rumen and colon are distinct environments. There was an apparent correlation of age to cluster, which will be validated by a larger sample size in future studies, but there were no detectable trends based upon gender.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-12-212
PMCID: PMC3585231  PMID: 22992344
Colon; Gut microbiome; Rumen; Vermont; 16S rRNA
5.  Differences in the Rumen Methanogen Populations of Lactating Jersey and Holstein Dairy Cows under the Same Diet Regimen▿† 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2011;77(16):5682-5687.
In the dairy cattle industry, Holstein and Jersey are the breeds most commonly used for production. They differ in performance by various traits, such as body size, milk production, and milk composition. With increased concerns about the impact of agriculture on climate change, potential differences in other traits, such as methane emission, also need to be characterized further. Since methane is produced in the rumen by methanogenic archaea, we investigated whether the population structure of methanogen communities would differ between Holsteins and Jerseys. Breed-specific rumen methanogen 16S rRNA gene clone libraries were constructed from pooled PCR products obtained from lactating Holstein and Jersey cows, generating 180 and 185 clones, respectively. The combined 365 sequences were assigned to 55 species-level operational taxonomic units (OTUs). Twenty OTUs, representing 85% of the combined library sequences, were common to both breeds, while 23 OTUs (36 sequences) were found only in the Holstein library and 12 OTUs (18 sequences) were found only in the Jersey library, highlighting increased diversity in the Holstein library. Other differences included the observation that sequences with species-like sequence identity to Methanobrevibacter millerae were represented more highly in the Jersey breed, while Methanosphaera-related sequences and novel uncultured methanogen clones were more frequent in the Holstein library. In contrast, OTU sequences with species-level sequence identity to Methanobrevibacter ruminantium were represented similarly in both libraries. Since the sampled animals were from a single herd consisting of two breeds which were fed the same diet and maintained under the same environmental conditions, the differences we observed may be due to differences in host breed genetics.
doi:10.1128/AEM.05130-11
PMCID: PMC3165256  PMID: 21705541
6.  Molecular analysis of methanogenic archaea in the forestomach of the alpaca (Vicugna pacos) 
BMC Microbiology  2012;12:1.
Background
Methanogens that populate the gastrointestinal tract of livestock ruminants contribute significantly to methane emissions from the agriculture industry. There is a great need to analyze archaeal microbiomes from a broad range of host species in order to establish causal relationships between the structure of methanogen communities and their potential for methane emission. In this report, we present an investigation of methanogenic archaeal populations in the foregut of alpacas.
Results
We constructed individual 16S rRNA gene clone libraries from five sampled animals and recovered a total of 947 sequences which were assigned to 51 species-level OTUs. Individuals were found to each have between 21 and 27 OTUs, of which two to six OTUs were unique. As reported in other host species, Methanobrevibacter was the dominant genus in the alpaca, representing 88.3% of clones. However, the alpaca archaeal microbiome was different from other reported host species, as clones showing species-level identity to Methanobrevibacter millerae were the most abundant.
Conclusion
From our analysis, we propose a model to describe the population structure of Methanobrevibacter-related methanogens in the alpaca and in previously reported host species, which may contribute in unraveling the complexity of symbiotic archaeal communities in herbivores.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-12-1
PMCID: PMC3292460  PMID: 22221383
7.  Methanogens: Methane Producers of the Rumen and Mitigation Strategies 
Archaea  2010;2010:945785.
Methanogens are the only known microorganisms capable of methane production, making them of interest when investigating methane abatement strategies. A number of experiments have been conducted to study the methanogen population in the rumen of cattle and sheep, as well as the relationship that methanogens have with other microorganisms. The rumen methanogen species differ depending on diet and geographical location of the host, as does methanogenesis, which can be reduced by modifying dietary composition, or by supplementation of monensin, lipids, organic acids, or plant compounds within the diet. Other methane abatement strategies that have been investigated are defaunation and vaccines. These mitigation methods target the methanogen population of the rumen directly or indirectly, resulting in varying degrees of efficacy. This paper describes the methanogens identified in the rumens of cattle and sheep, as well as a number of methane mitigation strategies that have been effective in vivo.
doi:10.1155/2010/945785
PMCID: PMC3021854  PMID: 21253540
8.  Community Composition and Density of Methanogens in the Foregut of the Tammar Wallaby (Macropus eugenii)▿  
The composition of the methanogenic archaeal community in the foregut contents of Tammar wallabies (Macropus eugenii) was studied using 16S rRNA and methyl coenzyme reductase subunit A (mcrA) gene clone libraries. Methanogens belonging to the Methanobacteriales and a well-supported cluster of uncultivated archaeon sequences previously observed in the ovine and bovine rumens were found. Methanogen densities ranged from 7.0 × 105 and 3.9 × 106 cells per gram of wet weight.
doi:10.1128/AEM.02436-08
PMCID: PMC2675200  PMID: 19218421
9.  A Vaccine against Rumen Methanogens Can Alter the Composition of Archaeal Populations▿  
The objectives of this study were to formulate a vaccine based upon the different species/strains of methanogens present in sheep intended to be immunized and to determine if a targeted vaccine could be used to decrease the methane output of the sheep. Two 16S rRNA gene libraries were used to survey the methanogenic archaea in sheep prior to vaccination, and methanogens representing five phylotypes were found to account for >52% of the different species/strains of methanogens detected. A vaccine based on a mixture of these five methanogens was then formulated, and 32 sheep were vaccinated on days 0, 28, and 103 with either a control or the anti-methanogen vaccine. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay analysis revealed that each vaccination with the anti-methanogen formulation resulted in higher specific immunoglobulin G titers in plasma, saliva, and rumen fluid. Methane output levels corrected for dry-matter intake for the control and treatment groups were not significantly different, and real-time PCR data also indicated that methanogen numbers were not significantly different for the two groups after the second vaccination. However, clone library data indicated that methanogen diversity was significantly greater in sheep receiving the anti-methanogen vaccine and that the vaccine may have altered the composition of the methanogen population. A correlation between 16S rRNA gene sequence relatedness and cross-reactivity for the methanogens (R2 = 0.90) also exists, which suggests that a highly specific vaccine can be made to target specific strains of methanogens and that a more broad-spectrum approach is needed for success in the rumen. Our data also suggest that methanogens take longer than 4 weeks to adapt to dietary changes and call into question the validity of experimental results based upon a 2- to 4-week acclimatization period normally observed for bacteria.
doi:10.1128/AEM.02453-08
PMCID: PMC2663202  PMID: 19201957
10.  Molecular Diversity of Methanogens in Feedlot Cattle from Ontario and Prince Edward Island, Canada▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2007;73(13):4206-4210.
The molecular diversity of rumen methanogens in feedlot cattle and the composition of the methanogen populations in these animals from two geographic locations were investigated using 16S rRNA gene libraries prepared from pooled PCR products from 10 animals in Ontario (127 clones) and 10 animals from Prince Edward Island (114 clones). A total of 241 clones were examined, with Methanobrevibacter ruminantium accounting for more than one-third (85 clones) of the clones identified. From these 241 clones, 23 different 16S rRNA phylotypes were identified. Feedlot cattle from Ontario, which were fed a corn-based diet, revealed 11 phylotypes (38 clones) not found in feedlot cattle from Prince Edward Island, whereas the Prince Edward Island cattle, which were fed potato by-products as a finishing diet, had 7 phylotypes (42 clones) not found in cattle from Ontario. Five sequences, representing the remaining 161 clones (67% of the clones), were common in both herds. Of the 23 different sequences, 10 sequences (136 clones) were 89.8 to 100% similar to those from cultivated methanogens belonging to the orders Methanobacteriales, Methanomicrobiales, and Methanosarcinales, and the remaining 13 sequences (105 clones) were 74.1 to 75.8% similar to those from Thermoplasma volcanium and Thermoplasma acidophilum. Overall, nine possible new species were identified from the two clone libraries, including two new species belonging to the order Methanobacteriales and a new genus/species within the order Methanosarcinales. From the present survey, it is difficult to conclude whether the geographical isolation between these two herds or differences between the two finishing diets directly influenced community structure in the rumen. Further studies are warranted to properly assess the differences between these two finishing diets.
doi:10.1128/AEM.00103-07
PMCID: PMC1932772  PMID: 17483285
11.  Development and Validation of a Real-Time PCR Method To Quantify Rumen Protozoa and Examination of Variability between Entodinium Populations in Sheep Offered a Hay-Based Diet 
PCR and real-time PCR primers for the 18S rRNA gene of rumen protozoa (Entodinium and Dasytricha spp.) were designed, and their specificities were tested against a range of rumen microbes and protozoal groups. External standards were prepared from DNA extracts of a rumen matrix containing known numbers and species of protozoa. The efficiency of PCR (ɛ) was calculated following amplification of serial dilutions of each standard and was used to calculate the numbers of protozoa in each sample collected; serial dilutions of DNA were used similarly to calculate PCR efficiency. Species of Entodinium, the most prevalent of the rumen protozoa, were enumerated in rumen samples collected from 100 1-year-old merino wethers by microscopy and real-time PCR. Both the counts developed by the real-time PCR method and microscopic counts were accurate and repeatable, with a strong correlation between them (R2 = 0.8), particularly when the PCR efficiency was close to optimal (i.e., two copies per cycle). The advantages and disadvantages of each procedure are discussed. Entodinium represented on average 98% of the total protozoa, and populations within the same sheep were relatively stable, but greater variation occurred between different sheep (100 and 106 entodinia per gram of rumen contents). With this inherent variability, it was estimated that, to detect a statistically significant (P = 0.05) 20% change in Entodinium populations, 52 sheep per treatment group would be required.
doi:10.1128/AEM.72.1.200-206.2006
PMCID: PMC1352179  PMID: 16391043
12.  Molecular Diversity of Rumen Methanogens from Sheep in Western Australia 
The molecular diversity of rumen methanogens in sheep in Australia was investigated by using individual 16S rRNA gene libraries prepared from the rumen contents obtained from six merino sheep grazing pasture (326 clones), six sheep fed an oaten hay-based diet (275 clones), and five sheep fed a lucerne hay-based diet (132 clones). A total of 733 clones were examined, and the analysis revealed 65 phylotypes whose sequences (1,260 bp) were similar to those of cultivated methanogens belonging to the order Methanobacteriales. Pasture-grazed sheep had more methanogen diversity than sheep fed either the oaten hay or lucerne hay diet. Methanobrevibacter strains SM9, M6, and NT7 accounted for over 90% of the total number of clones identified. M6 was more prevalent in grazing sheep, and SM9, despite being found in 16 of the 17 sheep, was more prevalent in sheep fed the lucerne-based diet. Five new species were identified. Two of these species exhibited very little sequence similarity to any cultivated methanogens and were found eight times in two of the six sheep that were grazing pasture. These unique sequences appear to represent a novel group of rumen archaea that are atypical for the rumen environment.
doi:10.1128/AEM.70.3.1263-1270.2004
PMCID: PMC368393  PMID: 15006742
13.  Parallel evolution of histophagy in ciliates of the genus Tetrahymena 
Background
Species of Tetrahymena were grouped into three complexes based on morphological and life history traits: the pyriformis complex of microstomatous forms; the patula complex of microstome-macrostome transformers; and the rostrata complex of facultative and obligate histophages. We tested whether these three complexes are paraphyletic using the complete sequence of the small subunit rDNA (SSrDNA).
Results
In addition to the 16 species of Tetrahymena whose SSrDNA sequences are known, we sequenced the complete SSrDNA from the following histophagous Tetrahymena species; Tetrahymena bergeri, Tetrahymena mobilis, Tetrahymena rostrata, and Tetrahymena setosa as well as the macrostome species Tetrahymena vorax. We also included a ciliate tentatively identified as Lambornella sp., a parasite of the mosquito Aedes sp. We confirmed earlier results using SSrDNA, which showed two distinct clusters of Tetrahymena species: the australis group and borealis group. The genetic distances among Tetrahymena are in general very small. However, all nodes were supported by high bootstrap values. With the exception of T. bergeri and T. corlissi, which are both histophagous and group as sister species, all other histophagous Tetrahymena species are most closely related to a bacterivorous species. Furthermore, Lambornella sp. and T. empidokyrea, both mosquito parasites, are sister species, although there is a considerable genetic distance between them.
Conclusions
There has been parallel evolution of histophagy in the genus Tetrahymena and the three classical species complexes are paraphyletic. As the genus Lambornella arises within the Tetrahymena clade, it is not likely a defensible one.
doi:10.1186/1471-2148-1-5
PMCID: PMC59677  PMID: 11701089
14.  Molecular diversity of rumen bacterial communities from tannin-rich and fiber-rich forage fed domestic Sika deer (Cervus nippon) in China 
BMC Microbiology  2013;13:151.
Background
Sika deer (Cervus nippon) have different dietary preferences to other ruminants and are tolerant to tannin-rich plants. Because the rumen bacteria in domestic Sika deer have not been comprehensively studied, it is important to investigate its rumen bacterial population in order to understand its gut health and to improve the productivity of domestic Sika deer.
Results
The rumen bacterial diversity in domestic Sika deer (Cervus nippon) fed oak leaves- (OL group) and corn stalks-based diets (CS group) were elucidated using 16S rRNA gene libraries and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE). Overall, 239 sequences were examined from the two groups, 139 clones from the OL group were assigned to 57 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) and 100 sequences from the CS group were divided into 50 OTUs. Prevotella-like sequences belonging to the phylum Bacteroidetes were the dominant bacteria in both groups (97.2% OL and 77% CS), and sequences related to Prevotella brevis were present in both groups. However, Prevotella shahii-like, Prevotella veroralis-like, Prevotella albensis-like, and Prevotella salivae-like sequences were abundant in the OL group compared to those in the CS group, while Succinivibrio dextrinosolvens-like and Prevotella ruminicola-like sequences were prevalent in the CS group. PCR-DGGE showed that bacterial communities clustered with respect to diets and the genus Prevotella was the dominant bacteria in the rumen of domestic Sika deer. However, the distribution of genus Prevotella from two groups was apparent. In addition, other fibrolytic bacteria, such as Clostridium populeti and Eubacterium cellulosolvens were found in the rumen of domestic Sika deer.
Conclusions
The rumen of domestic Sika deer harbored unique bacteria which may represent novel species. The bacterial composition appeared to be affected by diet, and sequences related to Prevotella spp. may represent new species that may be related to the degradation of fiber biomass or tannins. Moreover, the mechanism and biological functions of Prevotella spp. in the rumen ecosystem, and synergistic interactions with other microorganisms should be noticed.
doi:10.1186/1471-2180-13-151
PMCID: PMC3723558  PMID: 23834656
Ecology; Prevotella; Fiber; Tannin

Results 1-14 (14)