Ruminant animals such as cows and sheep produce enteric methane as they digest their feed. This represents a net loss of energy to the animal and a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions from livestock farming.
Rumen modification – manipulating the microbes that produce methane – is a promising area of research for reducing enteric methane emissions. The Rumen Microbial Genomics Network (RMG) is a forum for researchers using genomics approaches to understand enteric methane emissions and how they might be reduced without compromising animal health or productivity.
Recent achievements by Network members are:
- Groundbreaking results from the Global Rumen Census project that found that similar bacteria and methanogens dominate in nearly all rumens across a wide variety of species and animal diets.
- The publication of Hungate1000 – a global reference set of genome sequences of rumen microbes – in Nature Biotechnology See here for the press release and here for more on the Hungate 1000
project. A replica of the Hungate 1000 cultures will be held at Queens University Belfast and made available to scientists on demand. A database tool – RumenMine – is also being developed to house the Hungate 1000 sequencing data.
- The success in securing funding for a new project, RumenPredict, developing data to link rumen microbiome information with host genetics and phenotype information in order to develop feed-based mitigation strategies
- The compilation of a special edition of the Frontiers in Microbiology journal focused on metaomic approaches to studying the rumen microbiome, current challenges and innovation.