Dr. Renée Maxine Petri, PhD
Group Leader : Feed-Microbiome-Gut Interactions
Ruminant Module Leader : CD Lab for Innovative Gut Health Concepts in Livestock


Arbeitsguppe Ruminant Module:
von links oben nach rechts unten: B.Khorrami, C. Pacifico, E. Lopez Ezequias, R. Rivera-Chacon, S. Ricci, R. Petri, A.Sener, P. Kheirandish



Background and Research Focus

Raised in Canada on a mixed-livestock operation, Dr. Renée Maxine Petri has a diversified background in agriculture production. Dr. Petri specializes in the area of digestive microbiology with her research focus being on production related ruminal disorders of dairy cattle. However, Dr. Petri research and expertise includes most livestock species, including some work in aquaculture production. The working group of Dr. Petri focuses on understanding the role of the gastrointestinal microbiome in the health and productivity of livestock species, as well as looking for biomarkers of interest for identifiying subacute inflammation and disease susceptibility. Dr. Petri is also the bioinformatics specialist for the Institute of Animal Nutrition at the Vetmeduni.


Research Topics



Understanding the cross-talk between feed, host and the microbiome. 


The mammalian gastrointestinal tract (GIT) represents one of the most complex ecosystems on this planet, harboring eukaryotes, bacteria, archaea and viruses. The bacterial fraction is estimated to harbor 10- 100 trillion bacteria. As for nearly all natural ecosystems, the whole extent of biodiversity has not been fully uncovered yet. The GIT of farm animals is shaped by an intimate coexistence of the host and its microbial colonizers. These colonizers are in homeostatic balance, driven by dynamics in selection, competition and competitive exclusion of microbes. The knowledge of this microbiome and its function is of utmost importance for applied research in livestock. The microbiome is central in food digestion, the development of immunity of the host, maintenance of intestinal homeostasis, and ultimately contribute to the systemic health of the host. Our research addresses the diversity and community profile of microbes and aims to understand the function of these microbes in relation to dietary changes, and physiological host responses. Key approaches are the use of ‘Omics technologies (metagenomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics), which enable to study the uncultured majority of microbes, as well as finding biomarker metabolites that underlie the communication between microbe and host in all stages of livestock production.



Identification of metabolically active rumen microbes in cattle undergoing subacute ruminal dysbiosis. 


Ruminants have evolved as herbivores through a symbiotic relationship with a highly complex rumen microbial community consisting of bacteria, archaea, fungi, protozoa, and viruses. This essential microbial ecosystem enables ruminants to convert feedstuffs that are indigestible to monogastrics such as humans into volatile fatty acids (VFA), essential vitamins, and microbial proteins. Within the rumen microbiome, bacteria are the most diverse and predominant domain, and make the greatest contribution to the digestion and conversion of feeds. Disturbances to the microbial ecosystem result in negative consequences for the ruminant including decreased feed efficiency and in some cases inflammation. One of the most common production problems is subacute ruminal acidosis (SARA), which is defined as bouts of ruminal pH below physiological levels for extended periods in the day. These bouts are usually associated with feeding events, and the rapid fermentation of starches to VFAs. Despite being the focus of extensive research, the aetiology of SARA is poorly understood. This is partially due to the complexity of the rumen microbiome. Our research focuses on understanding the events that precede SARA and the associated changes in the microbial populations and the production of inflammation inducing endotoxins.    


Feed and feed additive impacts on rumen fermentation and microbial diversity.



The production efficiency of ruminant livestock is directly impacted by the efficiency of feed digestion and the stability of the rumen microbial population. Our group is interested in how feedstuffs (beetpulp, sunflower oil, processing cakes) and feed additives impact the fermentation and microbial community of ruminants in production systems.



Post-Doctoral Fellow, Institute of Animal Nutrition and Functional Plant Compounds, Vetmeduni Vienna, Austria

Ph.D. Rumen Microbiology and Digestive Physiology, Department of Animal and Poultry Science, University of Saskatchwan Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lethbridge, AB, Canada

M.Sc. Ruminant Nutrition, Department of Animal and Poultry Science, University of Saskatchwan Agriculture, Saskatchewan, Canada

B.Sc. Animal Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture, Life and Environmental Sciences, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


Selected Publications

RM Petri, M Münnich, Q Zebeli, F Klevenhusen. 2019. Graded replacement of corn grain with molassed sugar beet pulp modulates the fecal microbial community and hindgut fermentation profile in lactating dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science 2019; 102(6):5019-5030

RM Petri, SU Wetzels, M Qumar, R Khiaosa-Ard, Q Zebeli. 2019. Adaptive responses in short-chain fatty acid absorption, gene expression, and bacterial community of the bovine rumen epithelium recovered from a continuous or transient high-grain feeding. Journal of Dairy Science 102 (6), 5361-5378.

E Humer, RM Petri, JR Aschenbach, BJ Bradford, GB Penner, M Tafaj,  K-H Südekum, Q Zebeli. 2018. Invited review: Practical feeding management recommendations to mitigate the risk of subacute ruminal acidosis in dairy cattle. Journal of Dairy Science 101 (2), 872-888.

M Bagheri Varzaneh, F Klevenhusen, Q Zebeli, RM Petri. 2018. Scrophularia striata Extract Supports Rumen Fermentation and Improves Microbial Diversity in vitro Compared to Monensin. Frontiers in Microbiology 2018; 9:2164

RM Petri, T Schwaiger, GB Penner, KA Beauchemin, RJ Forster, JJ McKinnon, TA McAllister. 2013. Characterization of the core rumen microbiome in cattle during transition from forage to concentrate as well as during and after an acidotic challenge PloS One 8 (12), e83424.

RM Petri, T Schwaiger, GB Penner, KA Beauchemin, RJ Forster, JJ McKinnon, TA McAllister. 2013. Changes in the rumen epimural bacterial diversity of beef cattle as affected by diet and induced ruminal acidosis. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 79 (12), 3744-3755.