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Analysis of the gut bacterial communities in beef cattle and their association with feed intake, growth, and efficiency

P. R. Myer, H. C. Freetly, J. E. Wells, T. P. L . Smith, L. A. Kuehn
Journal of animal science 2017 v.95 no.7 pp. 3215-3224
animal proteins, bacterial communities, beef, beef cattle, business enterprises, feed conversion, feed intake, food availability, food security, gastrointestinal system, genetic improvement, herds, high-throughput nucleotide sequencing, hosts, intestinal microorganisms, longevity, meat production, metagenomics, microbiome, phylogeny, ruminant nutrition
The impetus behind the global food security challenge is direct, with the necessity to feed over 9 billion people by 2050. Developing a food-secure world, where people have access to a safe and sustainable food supply is the principal goal of this challenge. To achieve this end, beef production enterprises must develop methods to produce more pounds of animal protein with less. Selection for feed efficient beef cattle, utilizing genetic improvement technologies has helped to understand and improve the stayability and longevity of such traits within the herd. Yet, genetic contributions to feed efficiency have been difficult to identify, and differing genetics, feed regimens, and environments among studies contribute to great variation and interpretation of results. With increasing evidence that hosts and their microbiomes interact in complex associations and networks, examining the gut microbial population variation associated differences in feed efficiency may lead to partially clarifying the considerable variation in the efficiency of feed utilization. The use of metagenomics and high-throughput sequencing has greatly impacted the study of the ruminant gut. The ability to interrogate these systems at great depth has permitted a greater understanding of the microbiological and molecular mechanisms involved in ruminant nutrition and health. Although the microbial communities of the reticulorumen have been well documented to date, our understanding of the populations within the gastrointestinal tract as a whole are limited. The compositions and phylogenetic distributions of the gut microbial community are critical to the overall well-being of the host and must be determined in order to fully understand the relationship between the microbiomes within segments of the cattle GIT and feed efficiency, ADG, and ADFI. This review addresses recent research regarding the bacterial communities along the GIT of beef cattle, their association with ADG, ADFI, and feed efficiency, and the potential implications for beef production.