Our knowledge of rumen microbiology has grown immensely over the past 50 years, yet many people still regard the ruminal fermentation processes as a black box.
Like any other well-developed ecosystem, the rumen is very complex and changes imposed upon the fermentation can have unintended repercussions throughout the ecosystem, which may have a profound effect on the animal. Therefore, technologies to improve the efficiency of the ruminal fermentation proposed for the future (including introduction of designer bacteria or super-bugs that can address any perceived shortcomings of the ecosystem) need to be approached with caution. Future directions of research into the area of rumen microbiology will certainly include the use of genomics (sequencing of the DNA of ruminal microorganisms). The recent complete sequencing of the genome of predominant cellulose degrading bacteria will surely allow a greater understanding of the complex ruminal ecosystem.
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