Understanding activities of the rumen microbiome during herbivore digestion to advance sustainable ruminant farming

Project Details


Sustainable ruminant farming aids global food security while mitigating environmental impacts. Activity of microbes in the gastrointestinal tract of ruminants enables the effective digestion of feed, and changes in this activity affect animal health and performance, including GHG emissions. To fully leverage the potential of the microbiome to improve sustainable ruminant farming, it is critical to understand the activity of the rumen microbiome during digestion of animal feed.

This fellowship initiates a program of work that aims to uncover the fibre-degrading activities of anaerobe fungi as key players of the microbiome for feed lignocellulose digestion, and their metabolic interaction with other partners in the microbiome.

Initially the ability of a range of anaerobe fungi to digest and metabolise lignocellulose and derived compounds will be assessed via a combination of fungal biology and state-of-the art analytical methods for the complex lignocellulose matrix. Stable synthetic co-cultures of anaerobe fungi with rumen microbiome partners will be developed that metabolise a range of lignocellulose compounds, using an in-vitro cultivation system that mimics rumen conditions. Microbial interactions occurring in these communities will be studied in-depth via detailed mechanistic, biochemical characterisation, and their effect on feed digestion will be assessed.

Together this work will uncover the mechanisms behind fungal activity and fungal-bacterial interactions that enable effective feed digestion in the rumen. These insights will be mapped against metagenomic studies of the rumen microbiome to help uncover new fundamental insights in rumen microbiome function, and set steps towards their application in creating more sustainable ruminant farming.

The program of work uniquely positions the PI to harness expertise in glycobiology, microbiology and enzymology and leverages the background and well-established broad expertise of SRUC in ruminant farming, breeding and rumen microbiome.
Short titleunderstanding microbiome activities
Effective start/end date1/10/2330/09/31


  • microbiome
  • rumen
  • fungi
  • feed digestion


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