Insights into the bovine rumen plasmidome

Aya Brown Kav, Goor Sasson, Elie Jami, Adi Doron-Faigenboim, Itai Benhar, Itzhak Mizrahi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


Plasmids are self-replicating genetic elements capable of mobilization between different hosts. Plasmids often serve as mediators of lateral gene transfer, a process considered to be a strong and sculpting evolutionary force in microbial environments. Our aim was to characterize the overall plasmid population in the environment of the bovine rumen, which houses a complex and dense microbiota that holds enormous significance for humans. We developed a procedure for the isolation of total rumen plasmid DNA, termed rumen plasmidome, and subjected it to deep sequencing using the Illumina paired-end protocol and analysis using public and custom-made bioinformatics tools. A large number of plasmidome contigs aligned with plasmids of rumen bacteria isolated from different locations and at various time points, suggesting that not only the bacterial taxa, but also their plasmids, are defined by the ecological niche. The bacterial phylum distribution of the plasmidome was different from that of the rumen bacterial taxa. Nevertheless, both shared a dominance of the phyla Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, and Proteobacteria. Evidently, the rumen plasmidome is of a highly mosaic nature that can cross phyla. Interestingly, when we compared the functional profile of the rumen plasmidome to two plasmid databases and two recently published rumen metagenomes, it became apparent that the rumen plasmidome codes for functions, which are enriched in the rumen ecological niche and could confer advantages to their hosts, suggesting that the functional profiles of mobile genetic elements are associated with their environment, as has been previously implied for viruses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5452-5457
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number14
StatePublished - 3 Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Metagenomics
  • Microbial ecology
  • Rumen microbiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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