Single-cell transcriptomics across 2,534 microbial species reveals functional heterogeneity in the rumen microbiome.

Nature microbiology(2024)

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Deciphering the activity of individual microbes within complex communities and environments remains a challenge. Here we describe the development of microbiome single-cell transcriptomics using droplet-based single-cell RNA sequencing and pangenome-based computational analysis to characterize the functional heterogeneity of the rumen microbiome. We generated a microbial genome database (the Bovine Gastro Microbial Genome Map) as a functional reference map for the construction of a single-cell transcriptomic atlas of the rumen microbiome. The atlas includes 174,531 microbial cells and 2,534 species, of which 172 are core active species grouped into 12 functional clusters. We detected single-cell-level functional roles, including a key role for Basfia succiniciproducens in the carbohydrate metabolic niche of the rumen microbiome. Furthermore, we explored functional heterogeneity and reveal metabolic niche trajectories driven by biofilm formation pathway genes within B. succiniciproducens. Our results provide a resource for studying the rumen microbiome and illustrate the diverse functions of individual microbial cells that drive their ecological niche stability or adaptation within the ecosystem.
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