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Microbes in the gastrointestinal tract of ruminants such as moose help break down recalcitrant plant biomass into carbon nutrients, but how do they do this over the course of seasons when the moose diet changes, and what microbes are involved? Now, an international research team has studied microbial communities in the rumen of live moose and gained a more holistic view of a complex microbial food web that is responsible for carbon processing in that ecosystem.
Microbes breaking down biomass play a vital role in a surprising number of processes, including which chemicals are released into the air and whether a useful biofuel or bioproduct can be formed. By understanding how microbes process woody material like twigs and bark in the guts of moose, scientists can better predict how changes in the seasonal diet of these animals affects their ability to break down these woody materials. They can then extend this understanding to help biofuel, bioproduct, and chemical processing in industry.
Studies - Animals - Study - Alaska - Moose
While previous studies used hunter-killed animals, this study sampled live free-ranging Alaska moose grazing in the wild. By equipping these moose with rumen fistula, a port to their gut, the team could sample the animals as they digested a natural diet. The effort provided first-of-its-kind access to the microbial communities residing in the rumen of these animals as communities actively degraded woody plant biomass during spring, summer,...
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