Methane Research Programme

The NZAGRC methane programme is jointly planned and funded in partnership with the PGgRc and aligns with existing MPI programmes funded through SLMACC and New Zealand funding in support of the Global Research Alliance on agricultural greenhouse gases. It aims to reduce emissions by directly targeting the methane producing methanogens through the discovery of small molecule inhibitors and vaccines and indirectly through feeding and changes in animal phenotype. 

 

  • Breeding: Research to understand the genetics of host control of ruminant methane emissions, which aims to develop genetic and genomic selection technologies to reduce methane yield and intensity in sheep. The current stage of the programme involves the development and dissemination of practical tools for selection for lowered emissions. A major part of maximising impact and uptake is to explore relative economic value from increased production and potential increased feed utilisation associated with lowered methane
  • Vaccine (jointly supported by PGgRc): A prototype vaccine (which after further development is aimed at producing a vaccine targeted at reducing methane emissions in cattle and sheep by 20%) is being formulated with the help of a commercial partner
  • Inhibitors (previously jointly funded but now fully funded by PGgRc): Research to develop cost-effective inhibitors that reduce methane emissions by at least 20% in sheep and cattle—without reducing productivity—is now being developed, with a view to bring the technology to market
  • Modelling: A tool to help scientists in the NZAGRC/PGgRc programme to develop hypotheses and predict responses in methane formation is in its final stages
Current progress and research stories

The current objectives within the NZAGRC methane programme have made significant progress this year, with the sheep breeding programme getting closer to delivering breeding values to the national flock.

IDing Livestock Gut Microbes Contributing to Greenhouse Gas Emissions

News release from DOE JGI, 17 June 2014 excerpt

 "...not all ruminants are equal when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. It turns out that the amount of methane produced varies substantially across individual animals of the same ruminant species. To find out why this is so, a team of researchers led by the US Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI) deployed high throughput DNA sequencing and specialized analysis techniques to explore the contents of the rumens of sheep in collaboration with NZ's AgResearch Limited to see what role ruminant "microbiomes" (the microbes living in the rumen) play in this process.

The study was published online June 6, 2014 in Genome Research."

Factsheet

  • The NZ Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre and the NZ Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium made the methane screening data and animal resources available.
  • The NZ Fund for Global Partnerships in Livestock Emissions Research funded the work done in NZ to support the objectives of the Livestock Research Group of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases
  • The DOE Office of Science supported the sheep rumen research at the DOE JGI.
  • The data from the study complement the genomic sequences being generated from the Hungate1000 project, which seeks to produce a reference set of rumen microbial genomes from cultivated rumen bacteria and archaea, together with representative cultures of rumen anaerobic fungi and ciliate protozoa.

Full news release

http://jgi.doe.gov/study-reveals-livestock-gut-microbes-contributing-greenhouse-gas-emissions/  


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