Prof Rainer Roehe, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC). Rainer is a Professor in Animal Genetics and Microbiome and has research interests in the interaction between the variation in animal genomes and the structure, as well as function, of the gut microbiome. One of his main interests is the use of the abundances of the microbial community and microbial genes to predict animal performance attributes such as milk yield, growth, feed efficiency, meat quality, disease resistance and methane emissions. These predictions can be used in improvement of systems of ruminant production without measuring these traits. The high ability of rumen microbial gene abundances to predict traits such as feed efficiency and methane emissions has been shown in the PLOS Genetics publication Roehe et al. (2016). Rainer leads the BBSRC funded project entitled ‘Understanding the functional and genomic architecture of the ruminal microbiome affecting performance traits in bovines’, the Scottish Government-funded project ‘Strategies to use rumen microbial information in beef genetic improvement’, as well as projects to develop cutting-edge bioinformatics in the analysis of metagenomic data.
My vision of success for collaborative research is a common project of ILRI and SRUC researchers in the use of the rumen microbiome information as a proxy to predict milk yield, growth, feed efficiency, meat quality, disease resistance and methane emissions. These predictions can be used for genetic improvement programmes, nutritional interventions, animal health, epidemiology, forage breeding, etc. to improve the entire system of ruminant performances (e.g. in goats, sheep, beef and dairy) in Africa. The interest in microbiome-based proxies complements a wider expertise in proxies for these traits (e.g. Prof Richard Dewhurst work on proxies for feed efficiency and methane emissions).