Science

NZAGRC Science Leadership Team

The role of NZAGRC Science Leadership Team (SLT) is to play a key part in the development, implementation and monitoring of all of the Centre’s science programmes and strategies.  It consists of respected New Zealand-based researchers with excellent science credentials accompanied by strong leadership, communication, strategic and inter-personal skills with expertise in those areas of science covered in the NZAGRC Strategy and Science Plan.

Membership is agreed by the Steering Group and includes the NZAGRC Principal Investigators in addition to the NZAGRC Director and NZAGRC Operations Manager.  

Dr Graeme Attwood  AgResearch  
Dr Cecile DeKlein   AgResearch 
Professor Hong Di  Lincoln University 
Dr Robyn Dynes  AgResearch  
Dr Peter Janssen  AgResearch  
Dr David Whitehead   Manaaki Whenua

 

Science leadership & capability building 

The NZAGRC is committed to providing opportunities for researchers to be trained and work with leading experts in New Zealand.  Some students go on to continue their studies or enter a postdoctoral position under guidance from NZAGRC science leaders, other enter into industry based positions.

The NZAGRC supports more than 50 researchers and students by providing funding via its core research programme or via its student scholarships programme.

Below are profiles of our scientists and past students. 

Comparative genomics of rumen methanogens

Li, Y. (2016). Comparative genomics of rumen methanogens, Massey University. Doctor of Philosophy in Biochemistry: 550.

Abstract

Methane (CH4) emissions from agriculture represent around 9% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. The single largest source of this CH4 is animal enteric fermentation, predominantly from ruminant livestock, where it is produced mainly in their fermentative forestomach (or reticulo-rumen) by a group of archaea known as methanogens. In order to reduce CH4 emissions from ruminants, it is necessary to understand the role of methanogenic archaea in the rumen, and to identify their distinguishing characteristics that can be used to develop CH4 mitigation technologies. To gain insights into the role of methanogens in the rumen environment, two methanogens have been isolated from ovine rumen and their genomes were sequenced: methanogenic archaeon ISO4-H5 of the order Methanomassiliicoccales and Methanobrevibacter sp. D5 of Methanobrevibacter gottschalkii clade. Genomic analysis suggests ISO4-H5 is an obligate hydrogen-dependent methylotrophic methanogen, able to use methanol and methylamines as substrates for methanogenesis. Like other organisms within this order, ISO4-H5 does not possess genes required for the first six steps of hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis. Comparison between the genomes of different members of the order Methanomassiliicoccales revealed strong conservation in energy metabolism, particularly in genes of the methylotrophic methanogenesis pathway, as well as in the biosynthesis and use of pyrrolysine. Unlike members of Methanomassiliicoccales from human sources, ISO4-H5 does not contain the genes required for production of coenzyme M (CoM), and requires external supply of CoM to survive. Methanobrevibacter sp. D5 is a hydrogenotrophic methanogen predicted to utilise CO2 + H2 and formate as substrates. Comparisons between the available Methanobrevibacter genomes has revealed a high conservation in energy metabolism and characteristics specific to each clade. The coexistence of different Methanobrevibacter species in the rumen may be partly due to the physical association Methanobrevibacter species with different microorganisms and host surface, which allow unique niches to be established.

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