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Research article2012Peer reviewedOpen access

Methanogenic Population and CH4 Production in Swedish Dairy Cows Fed Different Levels of Forage

Danielsson, Rebecca; Schnürer, Anna; Arthurson, Veronica; Bertilsson, Jan


Methanogenic community structure, methane production (CH4), and volatile fatty acid (VFA) profiles were investigated in Swedish dairy cows fed a diet with a forage/concentrate ratio of 500/500 or 900/100 g/kg of dry matter (DM) of total DM intake (DMI). The rumen methanogenic population was evaluated using terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) analysis, 16S rRNA gene libraries, and quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR). Mean CH4 yields did not differ (P > 0.05) between diets, being 16.9 and 20.2 g/kg DMI for the 500/500 and 900/100 diets, respectively. The T-RFLP analysis revealed that populations differed between individual cows and that each individual population responded differently to the diets. The 165 rRNA gene libraries revealed that Methanobrevibacter spp. dominated for both diets. CH4 production was positively correlated with a dominance of sequences representing T-RFs related to Methanobrevibacter thaueri, Methanobrevibacter millerae, and Methanobrevibacter smithii relative to Methanobrevibacter ruminantium and Methanobrevibacter olleyae. Total numbers of methanogens and total numbers of Methanobacteriales were significantly higher with the 500/500 diet (P < 0.0004 and P < 0.002, respectively). However, no relationship was found between CH4 production and total number of methanogens. No differences were seen in total VFA, propionic acid, or acetic acid contents, but the molar proportion of butyric acid in the rumen was higher for the 500/500 diet than for the 900/100 diet (P < 0.05). Interestingly, the results also revealed that a division of the identified methanogenic species into two groups, suggested in the work of King et al. (E. E. King, R. P. Smith, B. St-Pierre, and A. D. G. Wright, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 77:5682-5687, 2011), increased the understanding of the variation in CH4 production between different cows.

Published in

Applied and Environmental Microbiology
2012, Volume: 78, number: 17, pages: 6172-6179