Rumen Systems Biology

Project: Externally funded research

Project Details


The ruminant system converts fibrous feed of low nutritional value to a product of high nutritional value, via the actions of a symbiotic microbial population. Effectively it is a highly stable chemostat for microbial transformation of plant material into the volatile fatty acids and microbial cells that contribute directly to animal nutrition. The goal is to design forage substrates containing the correct balance of macro and micronutrients to promote effective fibre digestion and microbial proliferation whilst inhibiting methanogenic species. However, unlike the feed matching requirements of relatively simple industrial chemostatic systems, the requirements of the rumen in terms of species abundance and/or functionality to provide animal health and digestive efficiency is still incompletely understood, which to date has made it difficult to manipulate a priori. Furthermore, feed components can affect fermentation outputs but the mechanism underlying these effects is poorly described at the molecular level. In this sub-programme we will develop bioinformatic methodologies to enable examination of the whole rumen ecosystem in terms of the metagenomic, metatranscriptomic, proteomic and metabolomic datasets obtained from sub-programmes 2 and 3 and to inform in the construction of a systems/network model of the rumen. This resource will inform targeted rumen manipulation, either by development and use of appropriate feed additives or through selective plant breeding to incorporate key traits in forage to achieve improved production and/or quality targets.
Short titleISPG [13537586]
Effective start/end date01 Apr 201231 Mar 2017


  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council: £928,302.00
  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council: £191,688.00
  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council: £1,438,047.00
  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council: £1,318,879.00

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land


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