Rainer Roehe

Professor of Animal Genetics and Microbiome

  • Easter Bush, Roslin Institute Building

    EH25 9RG Midlothian

    United Kingdom

20012021

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Personal profile

Biography

Rainer Roehe is Professor of Animal Genetics and Microbiome at Scotland’s Rural College. His overall research aim is to get insight into the microbiome in the rumen (the first of cow’s four stomachs), its effects on performance of bovine and its interactions with the host genome. Specifically, he is interested in understanding the functional genetics and pathways of the rumen microbiome and microbial genes associated with performance traits in bovine. His research is involved in the identification of quantitative genetic and genomic links between the host animal and rumen microbial community as well as microbial genes to be exploited for mitigation of methane emissions and improvement of feed conversion efficiency, meat quality, animal health, behavioural and welfare traits in ruminants. He is elucidating the symbiotic interactions between rumen microbiome and host considered as single ecological unit – the ‘holobiont’ using different –omics technologies. His collaborative teams have successfully applying bioinformatics on whole metagenome sequencing data to reveal metagenome-assembled genomes of rumen microbial species never being sequenced before. His publication entitled ‘Bovine host genetic variation influences rumen microbial methane production with best selection criterion for low methane emitting and efficiently feed converting hosts based on metagenomic gene abundance‘ was awarded the PLOS Genetics Research Prize 2017 based on scientific excellence and community impact. In addition, his team’s host genetics-microbiome research has been shortlisted for the Times Higher Education Honours Award 2018 in the category Research Project of the Year: STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).  

Research interests

My overall research interest is to unravel the host animal genomic architecture affecting complex performance traits in livestock. At present my main research interest is to reveal the influence of the gut microbiome on methane emissions, feed conversion efficiency, meat quality, animal health and behavioural traits, and how the host animal shapes the microbiome associated with those traits. In this research, whole-metagenome-sequencing is used to determine microbial community profiles as well as microbial gene abundances in order to understand the complex genetic and functional interactions between host genomics, microbiome and phenotypic traits. The comprehensive insight into these interactions will be used to develop novel cost-effective selection strategies exploiting microbiome information in animal breeding.

Current research interests

  • Understanding the functional genetics and pathways of the rumen microbiome and microbial genes associated with performance traits of animals.
  • Identification of quantitative genetic and genomic links between the host animal and rumen microbial community as well as microbial genes to be exploited for mitigation of methane emissions and improvement of feed conversion efficiency, meat quality, animal health, behavioural and welfare traits in ruminants.
  • Impact of nutrition on reduction in methane emissions and their effects on the composition of the rumen microbial community and on meat quality characteristics in beef.
  • Elucidating the impact of stress on the intestinal microbiota and its use as biomarker for pig wellness and performance.
  • Development of prediction equations for online measurement techniques to assess carcass, meat eating and nutritional quality in beef and sheep using imaging techniques.
  • Genetic improvement of meat quality traits in beef with particular interest in genetic improvement of fatty acids such as omega-3 fatty acids, reported to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Genetic and genomic background of energy and nitrogen efficiency in pigs to develop strategies for improvement of energy and nitrogen efficiency during growth.
  • Understanding the genetic background and genomic architecture of pig welfare traits such as piglet survival, aggression and related traits such as feed intake behaviour as well as the development of new selection strategies using e.g. canalised selection.
  • Research on the most appropriate statistical methodology to predict the genomic background of complex traits, e.g. the predictability of Bayesian mixture models to estimate the entire genomic background and to identify QTLs of complex traits.

Teaching

  • Course Leader and Lecturer BSc Animal Breeding and Genetics, SRUC.
  • Course Leader and Lecturer MSc Animal Genetic Improvement Module, University of Edinburgh.
  • Lecturer MSc Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare, University of Edinburgh.

Projects

Current:
•    2021-2024: BBSRC Genus plc ‘Operationalising social competence and estimating its genetic and genomic basis to improve the welfare of pigs’. Turner, Roehe (Co-I) (£455K, 3 years)
•    2021-2026: European Commission (Horizon 2020) ‘Understanding microbiomes of the ruminant holobiont’. Dewhurst, Roehe (Co-I) €759K, 5 years)
•    2020-2024: Novo Nordisk Foundation ‘Sustainable production of animals by optimizing the feed-microbiome-host axis’. Pope, Roehe (Co-I) (€300K, 5 years)
•    2019-2022: BBSRC Genus plc ‘Elucidating bovine host genomic links with rumen microbial genes to improve sustainably feed conversion efficiency using unique selection criteria’. Roehe (PI) (£795K, 3 years)
Previous (selected)
•    2017-2018: Zoetis Belgium SA ‘The use of intestinal microbiota as a biomarker for swine wellness and performance’. Roehe (PI) (£110K, 2 years)
•    2016-2019: BBSRC ‘Understanding the functional and genomic architecture of the rumen microbiome affecting performance traits in bovines’. Roehe (PI) (£382K, 3 years)
•    2016-2019: Innovate UK ‘Solutions for sustainable lamb production and breeding for more taste and less waste to increase food security in the UK and beyond’. Bunger, Roehe (Co I) (£710K, 5 years)
•    2012-2015: EBLEX (UK) ‘Nutritional improvements using diets and novel feed additives to enhance overall efficiency of beef production including meat quality and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions as identified by characterisation of the rumen microbial population’. Roehe (PI) (£247K, 5 years)
•    2011-2015: BBSRC Genus plc ‘Genomic and environmental dissection of social aggressiveness and feeding behaviour in pigs’. Roehe (PI) (£122K, 3 years)

Supervision

•    PhD student (2018-2022) ‘Development of an integrated metagenomic analysis system using the microbial community, their genes and biological mechanisms to predict cattle phenotypes ‘, joint with University of Ulster
•     PhD student (2018-202) ‘Precision breeding for piglet survival and the use of microbiome information to improve wellness in pigs‘, joint with University of Edinburgh
•    PhD student (2017-2021) ‘The use of networks of rumen microbial genes associated with performance traits for precision breeding and nutrition in beef cattle‘, joint with University of Edinburgh

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Institute of Animal Breeding and Husbandry, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel

Award Date: 15 Nov 1990

Master, Institute of Animal Breeding and Husbandry, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel

Award Date: 4 Nov 1986

Bachelor, University of Kassel

Award Date: 27 Jun 1983

External positions

Institute of Animal Breeding and Husbandry, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel

19992004

Institute of Animal Breeding and Husbandry, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel

19941999

Animal and Poultry Science, University of Guelph

19911993

Institute of Animal Breeding and Husbandry, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel

19871990

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