Rumen microbial diversity in Svalbard reindeer, with particular emphasis on methanogenic archaea

K. E. Praesteng, T. E. Glad, R. S. Senosiain, M. A. Sundset, M. N. Fraile, Yan Fen Cheng, Joan E. Edwards, S. D. Mathiesen, A-D G. Wright, K. S. Northwood

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Ruminal methanogens, bacteria and ciliate protozoa of Svalbard reindeer grazing natural pastures in October (late fall) and April (late winter) were investigated using molecular-based approaches. The appetite of the Svalbard reindeer peaks in August (summer) and is at its lowest in March (winter). Microbial numbers, quantified by real-time PCR, did not change significantly between October and April, when food intakes are at similar levels, although the numbers of methanogens tended to be higher in October (P=0.074), and ciliate numbers tended to be higher in April (P=0.055). Similarly, no change was detected in the bacterial and protozoal population composition by rRNA gene-based denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis analysis. Dominant methanogens were identified using a 16S rRNA gene library (97 clones) prepared from pooled PCR products from reindeer on October pasture (n=5). Eleven of the 22 distinct operational taxonomic units (OTUs) generated exhibited a high degree of sequence similarity to methanogens affiliated with Methanobacteriales (eight OTUs), Methanomicrobiales (one OTU) and Methanosarcinales (two OTUs). The remaining 11 OTUs (53% of the clones) were associated with a cluster of uncultivated ruminal archaea. This study has provided important insights into the rumen microbiome of a high-arctic herbivorous animal living under harsh nutritional conditions, and evidence suggesting that host type affects the population size of ruminal methanogens.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-230
Number of pages10
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2009


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