Associations between the rumen microbiota and carcass merit and meat quality in beef cattle


Holman, D.B., Gzyl, K.E., Scott, H., Prieto, N., López-Campos, Ó. Associations between the rumen microbiota and carcass merit and meat quality in beef cattle. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, [online] 108(1),

Plain language summary

The rumen microbiome plays a crucial role in the health and productivity of beef cattle. These bacteria help break down complex plant materials into nutrients that the cattle can use for energy. But did you know that they may also influence the quality of beef produced? In this study, researchers investigated how different types of bacteria in the rumen relate to the quality of beef and the characteristics of cattle carcasses.

Rumen samples were collected from 201 slaughtered beef steers and the microbiome was profiled. Carcass and beef quality data from these steers was then collected. It was found that certain bacteria in the rumen were linked to specific traits in the cattle. For example, Selenomonas spp. were associated with higher carcass weights and better meat quality, while others like Ruminococcaceae UCG-001 were linked to lower carcass weights.

Interestingly, bacterial genera such as Moryella and Christensenellaceae R-7 were associated with higher fat content in the meat, which is an important factor in determining the flavor and tenderness of beef.

Overall, this study sheds light on the intricate relationship between the rumen microbiome and the quality of beef produced by cattle. Understanding these connections could help farmers improve their cattle's diet or develop new strategies to enhance beef quality, ultimately benefiting both producers and consumers.


Abstract: The rumen microbiota is important for energy and nutrient acquisition in cattle, and therefore its composition may also affect carcass merit and meat quality attributes. In this study, we examined the associations between archaeal and bacterial taxa in the rumen microbiota of beef cattle and 12 different attributes, including hot carcass weight (HCW), dressing percentage, ribeye area (REA), intramuscular fat content, marbling score, fat thickness, yield grade, moisture content, purge loss, and shear force. There were significant correlations between the relative abundance of certain archaeal and bacterial genera and these attributes. Notably, Selenomonas spp. were positively correlated with live weight and HCW, while also being negatively correlated with purge loss. Members of the Christensenellaceae R-7, Moryella, and Prevotella genera exhibited positive and significant correlations with various attributes, such as dressing percentage and intramuscular fat content. Ruminococcaceae UCG-001 was negatively correlated with live weight, HCW, and dressing percentage, while Acidaminococcus and Succinivibrionaceae UCG-001 were negatively correlated with intramuscular fat content, moisture content, and marbling score. Overall, our findings suggest that specific changes in the rumen microbiota could be a valuable tool to improve beef carcass merit and meat quality attributes. Additional research is required to better understand the relationship between the rumen microbiota and these attributes, with the potential to develop microbiome-targeted strategies for enhancing beef production. Key points: • Certain rumen bacteria were associated with carcass merit and meat quality • Moryella was positively correlated with intramuscular fat in beef carcasses • Acidaminococcus spp. was negatively correlated with marbling and intramuscular fat