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Rumen Biology Behind High Methane Sheep

09 September 2014

NEW ZEALAND – Sheep producing lots of methane are microbially different in the rumen compared to low emitting animals.

Methanogens, the methane producing bacteria, are expressed genetically differently in sheep which emit more methane, a study published in Genome research has learned.

Overseeing the four year project between Global Partnerships in Livestock Emission Research and a team of AgResearch New Zealand scientists was Dr Graeme Attwood who sees the study leading on to more research in rumen microbiology.

“The study used the large sequencing and data analysis capabilities of the JGI to look at the occurrence, abundance and expression of methanogen genes between low and high methane-emitting sheep identified from flocks in New Zealand,” said Dr Attwood, an AgResearch scientist.

“These analyses showed that, although the relative abundance of genes did not differ between the low and high methane groups, the expression of genes involved in the metabolic pathway leading to methane formation were significantly elevated in methanogens within the rumens of high methane-emitting animals.”

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