University of Alberta

Grazing cows at University of Alberta research farm © Sang Weon Na

Founded in 1908, the University of Alberta is a public research university located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The UofA is considered a “Comprehensive academic and research university” (CARU), and offers a range of academic and professional programs, which generally lead to undergraduate and graduate degrees. The university has a strong research focus and this is particularly true in the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences (ALES), where Dr Guan is appointed. ALES has some of the most comprehensive agricultural and environmental research infrastructure and teaching facilities in the world. In addition to its many laboratories on the UAL’s main campus, ALES is also home to many research units, centres, ranches and facilities. ALES researchers have broad expertise in the animal sciences, including nutrition and metabolism, microbiology, immunology, reproductive physiology, genetics and genomics, meat quality, and ethology to support optimal health and production efficiency in domestic animal species.



Competence and main role(s) in the project

UAL will provide rumen samples that we have collected from cattle with feed efficiency and genotypes, and will share the microbiota data we have generated for more than 1000 rumen fluid samples and 96 lower gut samples. In addition, UAL will also share the bioinformatic pipelines that we have developed.

Project staff

Leluo Guan
Dr Leluo Guan is Professor in Functional Genomics and Microbiology. Dr Guan’s research program focuses on the host-microbial interactions in cattle using functional genomics. Her lab has been the first to link the microbiome with variation in feed intake, feed efficiency and rumen development. Since 2008, she has biobanked > 3000 rumen fluid samples from beef cattle with measured feed efficiency traits and with genotypes. She is Professor and Associate Dean in the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton Canada. Dr. Guan is one of the pioneer researchers in cattle gut microbiome. Dr. Guan’s research program focuses on 1). Elucidation of the molecular mechanisms of host-microbial interactions by characterization of bovine gut microbial ecology and its functions using metagenomics/metatranscriptomics approaches, and host gene expression using a functional genomics approach 2). Association between gut microbial ecology and feed efficiency, methane emission and gut immunity development in beef and dairy cattle 3). Study of the bovine transcriptome, proteome, and non-coding microRNAs and their roles in economically important traits. Dr. Guan is the author or co-author of 242 peer-reviewed publications and 8 book chapter with H-index of 60.0. She has secured > 33.9 M research funding (>10.5 as PI and >23.4 M as Co-I) and has trained a total of 38 grad students and 21 postdocs. For her contribution, Dr. Guan was awarded with multiple prestigious awards including Technical Innovation in Enhancing Production of Safe Affordable Food Award from Canadian Society of Animal Science in 2013; Killam Professorship in 2017; ADSA Zoetis Physiology Award and Canadian Society of Animal Science Fellowship in 2021.
Mi Zhou
Dr Mi Zhou is a Research Associate. Dr Zhou’s research focused on discovering host genetic and microbial markers for rumen functions and implications in improving cattle feed efficiency and mitigating methane emission. She will contribute to this project by her expertise on rumen methanogenesis and metagenome/metatranscriptome analysis. Dr. Mi Zhou obtained her PhD in animal science with emphasis on rumen microbiology at the U of A. She has been working on the field of rumen microbiology for 15 years. She is one of the pioneers in the field of rumen methanogens and methane mitigations, and one of her early publications has changed the direction of the research field. Dr. Zhou has contributed to 47 peer-reviewed papers and 4 book chapters, with an H-index of 18 and i10 index of 25. She is the editor of Archive of Animal Nutrition, and the guest editor of Veterinary Sciences. She has participated in 5 funded projects as co-investigator or collaborator with a total value over 1.0 M dollars. Dr. Zhou has earned 20 awards in her past study and research.
Mi Zhou
Yajing Ban
Yajing Ban is a current PhD student who is working on lower gut microbiome and its role in gut nutrient absorption and metabolism, and how the functions differ from the rumen microbiome and whether it also contribute to the feed efficiency. She completed her master’s degree in ruminant nutrition at University of Saskatchewan. She has worked in the Chinese dairy industry to provide consultation service in feed formulation and dairy farm management and was a CowSignals© certified trainer. Her primary research interest is the lower gut microbiome in ruminants, specifically in studying the microbial ecology in the lower digestive tract and their roles in feed digestion, nutrient absorption, and metabolism as well as their interaction with host gene expression in respect of nutrient absorption and energy metabolism. She has published 7 papers in peer reviewed journals and 1 book chapter. She was awarded in the graduate student research presentation in the 33rd Western Canadian Dairy seminar and with 9 scholarships in her past studies.
Yajing Ban
Sang Weon Na
Sang Weon Na is a current PhD student who works on the rumen microbiome of grazing beef cows through the year and under different pastures. The understanding of the rumen microbiome shift through the reproduction cycle will provide knowledge to improve breeding cow performance and heath. Sang Weon Na finished his master’s program about ruminant nutrition and rumen microbiology at Seoul National University, South Korea. His research interest is on the host-rumen microbial interaction, especially 1) the effect of rumen microbiota on ruminant nutrition, health, and feed efficiency, and 2) the relationship between rumen epithelial tissue and rumen epithelial attached bacteria. He is author of 2 peer-reviewed publications and has participated 7 conferences as a poster or oral presenter. He was awarded with ‘Best Oral Presentation Award’ from the 12th China-Japan-Korea Joint Symposium on Rumen Metabolism and Physiology and scholarships including Lecture & Research Scholarships and Doctoral Recruitment Scholarship.
Sang Weon