Different microbial genera drive methane emissions in beef cattle fed with two extreme diets

G A Miller*, MD Auffret, R Roehe, H Nisbet, MM Martinez Alvaro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
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The ratio of forage to concentrate in cattle feeding has a major influence on the composition of the microbiota in the rumen and on the mass of methane produced. Using methane measurements and microbiota data from 26 cattle we aimed to investigate the relationships between microbial relative abundances and methane emissions, and identify potential biomarkers, in animals fed two extreme diets - a poor quality fresh cut grass diet (GRASS) or a high concentrate total mixed ration (TMR). Direct comparisons of the effects of such extreme diets on the composition of rumen microbiota have rarely been studied. Data were analyzed considering their multivariate and compositional nature. Diet had a relevant effect on methane yield of +10.6 g of methane/kg of dry matter intake for GRASS with respect to TMR, and on the centered log-ratio transformed abundance of 22 microbial genera. When predicting methane yield based on the abundance of 28 and 25 selected microbial genera in GRASS and TMR, respectively, we achieved cross-validation prediction accuracies of 66.5 ± 9% and 85 ± 8%. Only the abundance of Fibrobacter had a consistent negative association with methane yield in both diets, whereas most microbial genera were associated with methane yield in only one of the two diets. This study highlights the stark contrast in the microbiota controlling methane yield between animals fed a high concentrate diet, such as that found on intensive finishing units, and a low-quality grass forage that is often found in extensive grazing systems. This contrast must be taken into consideration when developing strategies to reduce methane emissions by manipulation of the rumen microbial composition.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1102400
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Early online date13 Apr 2023
Publication statusFirst published - 13 Apr 2023


  • beef cattle
  • concentrate-based diets
  • enteric methane emissions
  • microbiota by diet interaction
  • zero-grazed grass diet


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