Addressing global ruminant agricultural challenges through understanding the rumen microbiome:Past, present and future

Authors Organisations
  • Sharon A. Huws(Author)
    Queen's University Belfast
  • Christopher Creevey(Author)
    Queen's University Belfast
  • Linda B. Oyama(Author)
    Queen's University Belfast
  • Itzhak Mizrahi(Author)
    Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
  • Stuart E. Denman(Author)
    Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia
  • Milka Popova(Author)
    INRA Centre Auvergne Rhône Alpes
  • Rafael Munoz-tamayo(Author)
    INRA UMR Mia-Paris
  • Evelyne Forano(Author)
    INRA Centre Auvergne Rhône Alpes
  • Sinéad M. Waters(Author)
  • Matthias Hess(Author)
    University of California, Davis
  • Ilma Tapio(Author)
    Natural Resources Institute Finland
  • Hauke Smidt(Author)
    Wageningen University and Research Centre
  • Sophie Krizsan(Author)
    Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
  • David Rafael Yáñez-Ruiz(Author)
    Zaidín Experimental Station
  • Alejandro Belanche(Author)
    Zaidín Experimental Station
  • Le L. Guan(Author)
    University of Alberta
  • Robert J. Gruninger(Author)
    Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
  • Tim McAllister(Author)
    Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
  • Jamie Newbold(Author)
    Scotland's Rural College
  • Rainer Roehe(Author)
    Scottish Agricultural College
  • Richard J. Dewhurst(Author)
    Scotland's Rural College
  • Timothy J. Snelling(Author)
    University of Aberdeen
  • Mick Watson(Author)
    University of Edinburgh
  • Garret Suen(Author)
    University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Elizabeth Hart(Author)
  • Alison Kingston-Smith(Author)
  • Nigel Scollan(Author)
    Queen's University Belfast
  • Rodolpho M. Do Prado(Author)
    Maringá State University
  • Eduardo Pilau(Author)
    Maringá State University
  • Hilario C. Mantovani(Author)
    Federal University of Viçosa
  • Graeme T. Attwood(Author)
  • Joan Elizabeth Edwards(Author)
    Wageningen University and Research Centre
  • Neil McEwan(Author)
    The Robert Gordon University
  • Steven Morrison(Author)
    Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute
  • Olga Mayorga(Author)
    Corporación Colombiana de Investigación Agropecuaria (CORPOICA)
  • Chris Elliott(Author)
    Queen's University Belfast
  • Diego P. Morgavi(Author)
    INRA Centre Auvergne Rhône Alpes
Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Article number2161
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sep 2018
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The rumen is a complex ecosystem composed of anaerobic bacteria, protozoa, fungi, methanogenic archaea and phages. These microbes interact closely to breakdown plant material that is inedible for humans, whilst providing metabolic energy to the host and producing methane. Consequently, ruminants produce meat and milk, which are rich in high quality protein, vitamins and minerals and therefore contribute to food security. As world population is predicted to reach approximately 9.7 billion by 2050, ruminant production has to increase to satisfy global protein demand, despite limited land availability, whilst ensuring environmental impact is minimised. These goals can be met by deepening our understanding of the rumen microbiome. Attempts to manipulate the rumen microbiome to benefit global agricultural challenges have been ongoing for decades with limited success, mostly due to the lack of a detailed understanding of this microbiome and our limited ability to culture most of these microbes outside the rumen. The potential to manipulate the rumen microbiome and meet global livestock challenges through animal breeding and introduction of dietary interventions during early life have recently emerged as promising new technologies. Our inability to phenotype ruminants in a high-throughput manner has also hampered progress, although the recent increase in ‘omic’ data may allow further development of mathematical models and rumen microbial gene biomarkers as proxies. Advances in computational tools, high-throughput sequencing technologies and cultivation-independent ‘omics’ approaches continue to revolutionise our understanding of the rumen microbiome. This will ultimately provide the knowledge framework needed to solve current and future ruminant livestock challenges


  • rumen, microbiome, host, diet, production, methane, omics, metatoxonomics, metagenomics, metatranscriptomics, metaproteomics, metabolomics