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A vaccine against rumen methanogens can alter the composition of archaeal populations

Williams, Y.J., Popovski, S., Rea, S.M., Skillman, L.C., Toovey, A.F., Northwood, K.S. and Wright, A.-D.G. (2009) A vaccine against rumen methanogens can alter the composition of archaeal populations. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 75 (7). pp. 1860-1866.

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The objectives of this study were to formulate a vaccine based upon the different species/strains of methanogens present in sheep intended to be immunized and to determine if a targeted vaccine could be used to decrease the methane output of the sheep. Two 16S rRNA gene libraries were used to survey the methanogenic archaea in sheep prior to vaccination, and methanogens representing five phylotypes were found to account for >52% of the different species/strains of methanogens detected. A vaccine based on a mixture of these five methanogens was then formulated, and 32 sheep were vaccinated on days 0, 28, and 103 with either a control or the anti-methanogen vaccine. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay analysis revealed that each vaccination with the anti-methanogen formulation resulted in higher specific immunoglobulin G titers in plasma, saliva, and rumen fluid. Methane output levels corrected for dry-matter intake for the control and treatment groups were not significantly different, and real-time PCR data also indicated that methanogen numbers were not significantly different for the two groups after the second vaccination. However, clone library data indicated that methanogen diversity was significantly greater in sheep receiving the anti-methanogen vaccine and that the vaccine may have altered the composition of the methanogen population. A correlation between 16S rRNA gene sequence relatedness and cross-reactivity for the methanogens (R2 = 0.90) also exists, which suggests that a highly specific vaccine can be made to target specific strains of methanogens and that a more broad-spectrum approach is needed for success in the rumen. Our data also suggest that methanogens take longer than 4 weeks to adapt to dietary changes and call into question the validity of experimental results based upon a 2- to 4-week acclimatization period normally observed for bacteria.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
Publisher: American Society for Microbiology
Copyright: © 2009, American Society for Microbiology
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