Specifically, they determined which microbes and enzymes control the supply of hydrogen, which is the main energy source for microbes which produce methane. The researchers found that these methane-producing microbes were the main hydrogen users in high-emitting sheep. On the other hand, non-methane producing microbes and enzymes—including acetogens, fumarate, nitrate and sulphate reducers—dominated in low-emitting sheep. This new understanding will allow scientists to manipulate the process and form strategies to reduce methane production from sheep, cattle and deer. One strategy suggested is to introduce feed supplements that encourage non-methane producing microbes and enzymes to outcompete those that produce methane.
An international research team led by ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) recipient, Associate Professor Chris Greening at Monash University’s School of Biological Sciences, has made an important discovery in the quest to help lower global agricultural methane emissions, vital for the ongoing health of the planet. In a collaboration with a wider team as part of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases, the researchers have identified new processes that control methane production in the stomach (rumen) of sheep and other ruminants. GONE WITH THE WIND—REDUCING AGRICULTURAL METHANE EMISSIONS
CONTROLLING THE BALANCE OF MICROBES AND ENZYMES IN THE STOMACHS OF RUMINANTS SUCH AS SHEEP AND CATTLE WILL LEAD TO REDUCED AGRICULTURAL METHANE EMISSIONS, WHICH CONTRIBUTE SIGNIFICANTLY TO HUMAN-DRIVEN CLIMATE CHANGE.
Sheep at the AgResearch farm in Aorangi, Palmerston North, New Zealand. Credit: AgResearch.
INDUSTRY-DRIVEN RESEARCH TO GENERATE ECONOMIC IMPACTS
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