Bacillus amyloliquefaciens strain H57 was initially isolated for its ability to inhibit the growth of fungi that causes livestock feed to spoil. When applied to feed, H57 markedly reduces fungal growth for up to three months. Interestingly, sheep and cattle fed H57-treated hay also exhibit improved feed intake, retain a larger percentage of feed nitrogen and gain more weight compared to untreated hay. The mechanisms by which H57 induces these beneficial effects are unknown.

We are investigating how H57 exerts its probiotic properties by examining its genome for extracellular enzymes that can assist in feed breakdown and antimicrobial compounds that inhibit growth of fungi and/or pathogenic bacteria. In addition, we are also examining the microbial community in the rumen of sheep fed H57-treated feed. Specifically our aims are to:

1.Investigate the dynamics of bacterial and fungal microbial composition in the rumen of sheep and cows
2.Identify changes in genomic capacity and activity of the resident rumen microbial community
3.Partition the metabolic functions to individual microbial populations

This project relies on the application of barcoded 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing and high-throughput shotgun sequencing of bulk DNA and RNA. We use a suite of bioinformatics software tools developed within ACE to analyse sequence data to shed light on rumen microbial dynamics and gene expression. These findings, combined with data from feed composition analyses and animal feeding trials, will provide insights into the mechanisms behind H57’s probiotic properties.

Staff: 
Principal investigator: Prof. Phil Hugenholtz
Bioinformatician: Dr. Yun Kit Yeoh
Clinical Program Coordinator: Ms. Nancy Lachner
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