An international collaboration, led by New Zealand scientists, has made a discovery in the quest to help lower methane emissions from animals.
Methane emissions from animals account for around a third of New Zealand's emissions. The animal itself does not produce methane but rather a group of microbes, called methanogens, who live in the stomach and produce methane mainly from hydrogen and carbon dioxide when digesting feed.
The international team involved researchers from AgResearch in New Zealand, the Universities of Otago in New Zealand, Monash in Australia, Illinois in the USA and Hokkaido in Japan. That international team for the first time identified the main rumen microbes and enzymes that both produce and consume that hydrogen.
Scientists can now begin to target the supply of hydrogen to methanogens as a new way of reducing animal methane emissions.
The leader of the research programme Dr Graeme Attwood, is very pleased with the progress in this research.
"It opens up a new approach to reducing livestock methane emissions," Dr Attwood said.
"This is vital for New Zealand to meets its greenhouse gas emission targets under the Paris Agreement and to ensure the farming of ruminants is sustainable into the future"
"This breakthrough has global relevance and again demonstrates the value of the Global Research Alliance," said Special Representative of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases, Hayden Montgomery.
"Through well-co-ordinated and well-funded science, we increase the likelihood of developing practical solutions to reducing global livestock emissions".
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