The aim of this experiment was to study the persistence in time of bacterial and methanogenic archaeal communities that establish in the rumen of lambs fed two different diets at weaning. Twenty ewes with single lambs were used in two phases. In phase I, 10 lambs had access only to grass hay (H group). The other 10 lambs had free access to concentrate and grass hay (C group). After 20 weeks, five lambs from each group were slaughtered and rumen samples were kept for analysis. In phase II, the remaining lambs were grouped together and fed grass plus concentrate for 4 months and then slaughtered, and rumen samples were collected for analysis. Terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis showed a different bacterial and methanogen population established in the rumen of H and C lambs in phase I. These differences disappeared for methanogens after both groups were fed the same diet for 4 months; however, the total bacterial community remained different for the H and C samples. Our results suggest that some of the differences in the microbial populations that establish in animals fed different diets at weaning persist in the long term, which provides the possibility of programming the microbial populations in the adult animal.
- DNA, Archaeal/genetics
- DNA, Bacterial/genetics
- Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
- Sheep, Domestic/microbiology
- Time Factors