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Open Access Research article

Discovery of a novel rumen methanogen in the anaerobic fungal culture and its distribution in the rumen as revealed by real-time PCR

Wei Jin, Yan Fen Cheng, Sheng Yong Mao and Wei Yun Zhu*

Author Affiliations

Laboratory of Gastrointestinal Microbiology, College of Animal Science and Technology, Nanjing Agricultural University, 210095 Nanjing, China

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BMC Microbiology 2014, 14:104  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-14-104

Published: 23 April 2014



The novel archaea belonging to Rumen Cluster C (RCC), which may play an important role in methane production in the rumen have received increased attention. However, the present information on RCC in the rumen is limited by the unsuccessful isolation of axenic pure RCC from the rumen. In the present study, RCC grown in anaerobic fungal subcultures was identified by the molecular and culture methods.


A novel RCC species existing in the fungal subcultures was identified and demonstrated by the 16S rRNA gene clone library. Interestingly, the novel RCC species survived in the fungal cultures over all the subculture transferring, even in the 62nd subculture, in contrast to the other methanogens, which disappeared during subcultures. Further work showed that subculture transfer frequency significantly affected the relative abundance of the novel RCC species in the fungal subcultures. The five-day and seven-day transfer frequencies increased the relative abundance of the RCC species (P<0.05). In addition, quantitative real-time PCR revealed that high concentrate diets did not affect the abundance of archaea, but numerically reduced the abundance of the novel RCC species in the rumen. In addition, the relative abundance of the RCC species was numerically higher in the rumen liquid fraction than in the rumen epithelium and solid fractions. Finally, a purified fungal culture containing the RCC species was successfully obtained. PCR and sequencing analysis showed that the novel RCC species contained a mcrA gene, which is known to play a crucial role in methanogenesis, and thus could be identified as a methanogen.


In this study, a novel RCC species was identified as a methanogen and closely associated with anaerobic fungi. This novel approach by using co-culture with anaerobic fungi may provide a feasible way to culture and investigate not yet identified methanogens.