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Microbial colonisation of the insoluble components of low- and high-quality fodder

Study level


Master of Philosophy


Vacation research experience scheme

Faculty/Lead unit

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Dr Kevin Dudley
Research Officer (Genomics)
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty
Dr Mark Harrison
Senior Research Fellow
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty

External supervisors

  • Dr Karen Harper, UQ


The nutritional quality of fodders, a type of animal feed, varies widely. It is not clear whether the mechanism by which microorganisms in the rumen break down the fibre inside of low-quality, medium-quality and high-quality fodders also varies.

Research activities

As part of the project you will:

  • characterise a selection of low-quality, medium-quality and high-quality fodders
  • determine the digestibility of dry matter, neutral detergent fibre and acid detergent fibre for each fodder using in vitro rumen fluid fermentation
  • identify the microorganisms living on the surface of the fodder particles and how they change over time using metagenomics analysis
  • identify the gene products produced by the microbial community living on the surface of fodder particles using metatranscriptomic and metaproteomic analysis.


The overall aim of the project is to determine if the mechanism of fibre digestion used by the consortium of microorganisms living in the bovine rumen varies depending upon the quality of the fodder in the diet.

Skills and experience

If you have a working knowledge of the following scientific fields and strong practical skills it will be well regarded:

  • lignocellulosic biomass analysis
  • ruminant biology/microbiology
  • meta-genomics/transcriptomics/proteomics


You may be able to apply for a research scholarship in our annual scholarship round.

Annual scholarship round



Contact Dr Mark Harrison for more information.