The Road Not Taken: The Rumen Microbiome, Functional Groups, and Community States

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68 Scopus citations


The rumen ecosystem represents a classic example of host–microbiome symbiosis. In this obligatory relationship, the host feeds on plant fibers that can only be degraded through a set of complex metabolic cascades, exclusively encoded in rumen-associated microbes. These various metabolic pathways are distributed across a multitude of microbial populations. Application of basic ecological principles to this ecosystem can contribute to profound understanding of the rules that shape it. Here, we discuss recent studies by examining the mapping between host attributes, rumen ecosystem composition, and functionality to propose simple, yet powerful concepts to guide the interpretation of microbiome data and enable a better understanding of how the system responds to perturbations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)538-549
Number of pages12
JournalTrends in Microbiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2019


  • feed-efficiency
  • food webs
  • host microbiome interactions
  • metabolic pathway
  • methane emission
  • microbial niche modification
  • microbiome ecology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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