Temporal changes in total and metabolically active ruminal methanogens in dairy cows supplemented with 3-nitrooxypropanol

D. W. Pitta, A. Melgar, A. N. Hristov, N. Indugu, K. S. Narayan, C. Pappalardo, M. L. Hennessy, B. Vecchiarelli, V. Kaplan-Shabtai, M. Kindermann, N. Walker

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17 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of 3-nitrooxypropanol (3-NOP), a potent methane inhibitor, on total and metabolically active methanogens in the rumen of dairy cows over the course of the day and over a 12-wk period. Rumen contents of 8 ruminally cannulated early-lactation dairy cows were sampled at 2, 6, and 10 h after feeding during wk 4, 8, and 12 of a randomized complete block design experiment in which 3-NOP was fed at 60 mg/kg of feed dry matter. Cows (4 fed the control and 4 fed the 3-NOP diet) were blocked based on their previous lactation milk yield or predicted milk yield. Rumen samples were extracted for microbial DNA (total) and microbial RNA (metabolically active), PCR amplified for the 16S rRNA gene of archaea, sequenced on an Illumina platform, and analyzed for archaea diversity. In addition, the 16S copy number and 3 ruminal methanogenic species were quantified using the real-time quantitative PCR assay. We detected a difference between DNA and RNA (cDNA)-based archaea communities, revealing that ruminal methanogens differ in their metabolic activities. Within DNA and cDNA components, methanogenic communities differed by sampling hour, week, and treatment. Overall, Methanobrevibacter was the dominant genus (94.3%) followed by Methanosphaera, with the latter genus having greater abundance in the cDNA component (14.5%) compared with total populations (5.5%). Methanosphaera was higher at 2 h after feeding, whereas Methanobrevibacter increased at 6 and 10 h in both groups, showing diurnal patterns among individual methanogenic lineages. Methanobrevibacter was reduced at wk 4, whereas Methanosphaera was reduced at wk 8 and 12 in cows supplemented with 3-NOP compared with control cows, suggesting differential responses among methanogens to 3-NOP. A reduction in Methanobrevibacter ruminantium in all 3-NOP samples from wk 8 was confirmed using real-time quantitative PCR. The relative abundance of individual methanogens was driven by a combination of dietary composition, dry matter intake, and hydrogen concentrations in the rumen. This study provides novel information on the effects of 3-NOP on individual methanogenic lineages, but further studies are needed to understand temporal dynamics and to validate the effects of 3-NOP on individual lineages of ruminal methanogens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8721-8735
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of dairy science
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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