Microbiology

Changing ecosystems in cow stomachs

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Science  04 Aug 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6350, pp. 468-469
DOI: 10.1126/science.357.6350.468-c

Cattle are able to metabolize otherwise indigestible plant materials with the help of methane-generating bacteria in their first stomach, called the rumen. Friedman et al. show that methane is generated in the rumen of newborn calves just 2 days after birth. However, the methanogens in the young calves' rumen differ from those of mature animals. The bacterial taxa that dominate in the young calves require methylated compounds, whereas those in the mature animals mostly require dihydrogen and carbon dioxide. These shifts in observed taxa likely occur as a response to changing environmental conditions during different life stages.

Environ. Microbiol. 10.1111/1462-2920.13846 (2017).

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