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Metabolomics Reveals that Crossbred Dairy Buffaloes Are More Thermotolerant than Holstein Cows under Chronic Heat Stress

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posted on 24.11.2018, 00:00 by Zhaobing Gu, Lin Li, Shoukun Tang, Chuanbin Liu, Xianhai Fu, Zhengxiang Shi, Huaming Mao
Heat stress (HS) threatens the worldwide dairy industry by decreasing animal production performance and health. Holstein cows and dairy buffaloes are the most important dairy animals, but their differences in the metabolic mechanism of thermotolerance remain elusive. In this study, we used serum metabolomics to evaluate the differences in thermotolerance between Holstein cows and crossbred dairy buffaloes under chronic heat stress (HS) and thermal-neutral conditions. In response to HS, the body temperatures and respiratory rates were increased more for Holstein cows than for dairy buffaloes (38.78 vs 38.24 °C, p < 0.001; 43.6 vs 32.5 breaths/min, p < 0.001). HS greatly affected serum metabolites associated with amino acids, fatty acids, and bile acids. The enriched metabolic pathways of these serum metabolites are closely related to HS. We demonstrated that buffaloes adapt to HS by adopting a metabolism of branched-chain amino acids and ketogenic amino acids and gluconeogenesis, but Holstein cows decrease the effect of HS with citrulline and proline metabolism. Both physiological parameters and serum metabolic profiles indicate that dairy buffaloes are more thermotolerant than Holstein cows, providing the feasibility to vigorously develop the buffalo dairy industry in tropical and subtropical regions.