Rumen epithelial transcriptome and microbiome profiles of rumen epithelium and contents of beef cattle with and without liver abscesses

Waseem Abbas, Brittney N. Keel, Stephan D. Kachman, Samodha C. Fernando, James E. Wells, Kristin E. Hales, Amanda K. Lindholm-Perry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Abscess is the highest cause of liver condemnation and is estimated to cost the beef industry US$64 million annually. Fusobacterium necrophorum, commonly found in the bovine rumen, is the primary bacteria associated with liver abscess in cattle. Theoretically, damage to the rumen wall allows F. necrophorum to invade the bloodstream and colonize the liver. The objective of this study was to determine the changes in gene expression in the rumen epithelium and microbial populations adherent to the rumen epithelium and in the rumen contents of beef cattle with liver abscesses compared with those with no liver abscesses. Rumen epithelial tissue and rumen content were collected from 31 steers and heifers with liver abscesses and 30 animals with no liver abscesses. Ribonucleic acid (RNA) sequencing was performed on the rumen epithelium, and a total of 221 genes were identified as differentially expressed in the animals with liver abscesses compared with animals with no abscesses, after removal of genes that were identified as a result of interaction with sex. The nuclear factor kappa-light-chain enhancer of activated B cells signaling and interferon signaling pathways were significantly enriched in the differentially expressed gene (DEG) set. The majority of the genes in these pathways were downregulated in animals with liver abscesses. In addition, RNA translation and protein processing genes were also downregulated, suggesting that protein synthesis may be compromised in animals with liver abscesses. The rumen content bacterial communities were significantly different from the rumen wall epimural bacterial communities. Permutational multivariate analysis of variance (PERMANOVA) analysis did not identify global differences in the microbiome of the rumen contents but did identify differences in the epimural bacterial communities on the rumen wall of animals without and with liver abscesses. In addition, associations between DEG and specific bacterial amplicon sequence variants of epimural bacteria were observed. The DEG and bacterial profile on the rumen papillae identified in this study may serve as a method to monitor animals with existing liver abscesses or to predict those that are more likely to develop liver abscesses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberskaa359
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2020


  • Cattle
  • Liver abscess
  • Rumen
  • Transcriptome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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