Observing the Gastrointestinal Tract of Moose to Observe the Digestion of Biomass

Microbes present in the gut of moose help in breaking down bark and other sturdy plant materials into organic nutrients. An international team researched and gained further insight into the complex food web of microbes which processes carbon in that environment. Their efforts interpreted the community structure and the metabolic handoffs that formed the foundation of this animal hosted-microbial environment.

The breakdown of biomass by microbes has a very important role in a number of processes. These procedures determine, for example, whether a practical biofuel and bioproduct can be produced. This study elaborates how microbes process materials related to wood such as twigs and barks in the moose’s gut. Now, scientists are able to predict properly how alterations in the diet of these moose affect their capability of breaking down these materials. Scientists can, therefore, use this understanding to process chemicals, biofuels, and bioproducts in the industry.

Whereas the previous studies examined animals that were hunted, these studies experimented on free, wild, grazing Alaska moose. The team observed these animals as they ate and digested their normal diet. Their hard work enabled them to observe for the first time the microbial communities inhabiting the rumen of these moose and degrading the woody material in them during all the seasons. A team comprising of researchers from all over the world looked deeply into the functioning mechanism of the microbes in the rumen. They utilized protein and metabolite information that was gathered by using 600-MHz of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy at the Environmental Molecular Sciences Lab (EML), and the genomic data gathered from the Joint Genome Institute (JGI).