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Methane production and ruminal microbial interactions

INRA Prod. Anim., 2011, 24 (5), 447-460

M. POPOVA, D.P. MORGAVI, M. DOREAU, C. MARTIN

INRA, UR1213 Herbivores, F-63122 Saint-Genès-Champanelle, France

Abstract

Enteric methane is formed during the microbial degradation of food in the rumen, and any variation in its production level is theresult of a change in the microbial ecosystem. Indeed the structure and / or activity of the microbial community determine the productionand, partially, the utilization of dihydrogen (the limiting substrate of methanogenesis). Methane is produced by a specializedgroup of microbes, the methanogens that represent only a small part of the microbial biomass and diversity in the rumen. There isno relationship between methane production and number of methanogens except where specific inhibitors of Archaea are used (vaccines,chemical additives); new studies suggest that the variations in methane production are more likely due to changes in the metabolicactivity of methanogens and / or changes in their diversity at the species or even strain level. The development of long-term mitigationstrategies requires a good understanding of the mechanisms involved in methanogenesis and needs to consider the microbialecosystem as a whole.

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