Scientific Reports | 2019
Characterization of the rumen and fecal microbiome in bloated and non-bloated cattle grazing alfalfa pastures and subjected to bloat prevention strategies
Frothy bloat is an often fatal digestive disorder of cattle grazing alfalfa pastures. The aim of this study was to investigate ruminal and fecal microbiota dynamics associated with development of alfalfa-induced frothy bloat and to further explore how bloat prevention strategies influence the composition of these microbial communities. In a 3\u2009×\u20093 crossover experiment, twelve rumen-cannulated steers were sequentially subjected to: (1) pure alfalfa pasture, (2) pure alfalfa pasture supplemented with the pluronic detergent ALFASURE, and (3) alfalfa – sainfoin mixed pasture. Eleven out of 12 steers in pure alfalfa pasture developed clinical bloat, whereas ALFASURE treatment prevented the development of bloat in all 12 steers and alfalfa – sainfoin prevented bloat in 5 out of 11 steers. Development of bloat was associated with considerable shifts in the microbiota profile of rumen contents. In particular, the microbiota of solid rumen contents from bloated steers contained higher species richness and diversity. Streptococcus, Succinivibrio and unclassified Myxococcales were enriched in the rumen microbiota of bloated steers, whereas Fibrobacter and Ruminococcus were overrepresented in the rumen contents of non-bloated steers. Our results provide novel insights into bloat-associated shifts in the composition and predicted functional properties of the rumen microbiota of cattle grazing alfalfa pasture.