The rumen is a four-chambered stomach that is found in specialized herbivores – called ruminants. Cows, sheep, goats, deer, moose, and buffalo are all examples of ruminants. Camels, llamas, and alpacas have a modified three-chambered stomach and are considered pseudo-ruminants. The four chambers are called the rumen, the reticulum (combined with the rumen in pseudo-ruminants), the omasum, and the abomasum, and each have a specialized function for digestion. Along with that function comes a specialized anatomy, and both create unique environmental conditions per chamber that recruits different microbial communities. In the main chamber, the rumen, the microbial community in a ruminant is complex, including thousands of different types of bacteria, archaea, protozoa, fungi, and viruses. All of these microorganisms interact with each other, with food in the digestive tract, and with the animal host. In particular, many of them are involved in plant fiber digestion, something the ruminant animal can’t do without its symbiotic community.
My lab focuses on understanding the players and the dynamics in the microbial universe that is the rumen, as well as in the rest of the digestive tract. I collaborate with other ruminant microbiologists, animal scientists, animal producers, and more to study when, and how, these host-microbial interactions change, and when it becomes detrimental for the ruminant host.
- Garcia-Mazcorro, J.F., Ishaq, S.L., Rodriguez-Herrera, M.V., Garcia-Hernandez, C.A., Kawas, J.R., Nagaraja, T.G. 2019. Review: Are there indigenous Saccharomyces in the digestive tract of livestock animal species? Implications for health, nutrition and productivity traits. Animal: 1-9. Impact 2.026. Article.
- St-Pierre, B., Cersosimo, L.M., Ishaq, S.L., Wright, A-D.G. 2015. Toward the identification of methanogenic archaeal groups as targets of methane mitigation in livestock animals. Frontiers in Microbiology 6:776. Impact 4.165. Article.
- Ishaq S.L., Wright A-D.G. 2015. Terrestrial Vertebrate Animal Metagenomics, Wild Ruminants. In: Highlander, SK, Rodriguez-Valera, F, White, BA. (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Metagenomics: SpringerReference. Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. Article.
- Ishaq, S.L., Wright, A-D.G. 2015. Wild Ruminants. In: Rumen Microbiology – Evolution to Revolution. AK Puniya, R Singh, DN Kamra (eds). Springer India. Pp. 37-45. Article.