Estimating microbial protein synthesis in the rumen – can ‘omics’ methods provide new insights into a long-standing question?

JPL Patricia Do Jardim Goncalves Lima, W Ingabire, R Roehe, RJ Dewhurst*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Rumen microbial protein synthesis (MPS) provides at least half of the amino acids for the synthesis of milk and meat protein in ruminants. As such, it is fundamental to global food protein security. Estimating microbial protein is central to diet formulation, maximising nitrogen (N)-use efficiency and reducing N losses to the environment. Whilst factors influencing MPS are well established in vitro, techniques for in vivo estimates, including older techniques with cannulated animals and the more recent technique based on urinary purine derivative (UPD) excretion, are subject to large experimental errors. Consequently, models of MPS used in protein rationing are imprecise, resulting in wasted feed protein and unnecessary N losses to the environment. Newer 'omics' techniques are used to characterise microbial communities, their genes and resultant proteins and metabolites. An analysis of microbial communities and genes has recently been used successfully to model complex rumen-related traits, including feed conversion efficiency and methane emissions. Since microbial proteins are more directly related to microbial genes, we expect a strong relationship between rumen metataxonomics/metagenomics and MPS. The main aims of this review are to gauge the understanding of factors affecting MPS, including the use of the UPD technique, and explore whether omics-focused studies could improve the predictability of MPS, with a focus on beef cattle.

Original languageEnglish
Article number679
JournalVeterinary Sciences
Issue number12
Early online date27 Nov 2023
Publication statusPrint publication - 27 Nov 2023

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  • Microbial protein synthesis
  • Rumen
  • Microbiome
  • Urinary purine derivatives
  • microbiota
  • microbial protein synthesis
  • urinary purine derivatives
  • microbiome
  • rumen


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