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Board-invited review: Rumen microbiology: Leading the way in microbial ecology

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Robert Hungate, considered the father of rumen microbiology, was the fi rst to initiate a systematic exploration of the microbial ecosystem of the rumen, but he was not alone. The techniques he developed to isolate and identify cellulose-digesting bacteria from the rumen have had a major impact not only in delineating the complex ecosystem of the rumen but also in clinical microbiology and in the exploration of a number of other anaerobic ecosystems, including the human hindgut. Rumen microbiology has pioneered our understanding of much of microbial ecology and has broadened our knowledge of ecology in general, as well as improved the ability to feed ruminants more efficiently. The discovery of anaerobic fungi as a component of the ruminal fl ora disproved the central dogma in microbiology that all fungi are aerobic organisms. Further novel interactions between bacterial species such as nutrient cross feeding and interspecies H2 transfer were fi rst described in ruminal microorganisms. The complexity and diversity present in the rumen make it an ideal testing ground for microbial theories (e.g., the effects of nutrient limitation and excess) and techniques(such as 16S rRNA), which have rewarded the investigators that have used this easily accessed ecosystem to understand larger truths. Our understanding of characteristics of the ruminal microbial population has opened new avenues of microbial ecology, such as the existence of hyperammonia-producing bacteria and how they can be used to improve N efficiency in ruminants. In this review, we examine some of the contributions to science that were fi rst made in the rumen, which have not been recognized in a broader sense.
D. O. Krause , T. G. Nagaraja , A. D. G. Wright
bacteria , cellulolytic microorganisms , ecosystems , fungi , gas exchange , hydrogen , microbial ecology , nutrient excess , ribosomal RNA , rumen , rumen bacteria , rumen fermentation , rumen fungi , ruminants , species diversity
Journal of animal science 2013 3 25 v.91
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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