Feed efficiency is one of the traits that is gaining more attention in dairy cattle breeding programs. High phenotyping cost and the necessity for adequate infrastructure reduce the throughput of this breeding goal. Apart from the genetic predisposition of the animal to efficiently utilize feed, ruminal and gut microbiota play a fundamental role in feed digestion and by-products available to the animal. Advances in high throughput techniques allow investigating the microbiota composition and its potential implications on feed efficiency in cattle. Simultaneously, the host genotype has an effect on the microbiota composition, building a host-microbiota binomio responsible for feed efficiency. In this paper, we determined that microbiota is more correlated to feed efficiency than to residual feed intake. A core microbiota was detected using different statistical methods, composed by some microorganisms from Prevotella, Lachnospira, Coprococcus, Shuttleworthia, Ruminococcus, Methanobrevibacter and CF231 genera, plus some unspecified genera from the Paraprevotellaceae, RF16, BS11 and Christensenellaceae families. This core microbiota affecting feed efficiency explained 50% more variance than that explained by the genotypes, increased the goodness of fit of the model, and the correlation between observed and estimated feed efficiency phenotypes by 5%. Some of the challenges and limitations we faced in the metagenomic studies are presented. Lastly, some strategies to improve feed efficiency through perturbation of the microbiota composition are envisioned, including biotechnology strategies. Keywords: dairy cattle, feed efficiency, residual feed intake, metagenomics, microbiota
Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume Biology - Feed Intake and Efficiency 1, , 93, 2018
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