Cow Genome mapped; can help cut methane emissions

Last Updated: Saturday, January 30, 2010 - 13:45

Washington: Cows release a lot of
greenhouse gas when they digest, but a new study has mapped
the DNA from one of the culprits -- a bacteria species.

An international team, headed by Dr Graeme Attwood of
Agresearch in Australia, has mapped the rumen methanogen DNA
sequence, which scientists claim will pave the way to identify
methods for cutting methane emissions from cows.

Rumen methanogens are the bacteria responsible for the
methane produced by livestock. The bacteria -- of which there
are a number of species -- live in gut of ruminant livestock,
removing the hydrogen and carbon dioxide released as grass and
other plant materials are broken down.

The byproduct of this process, however, is large
amounts of methane: one of the most potent greenhouse gases

According to the scientists, the aim behind sequencing
a rumen methanogen -- Methanobrevibacter ruminant, which is
a bacterium with 2200 genes and almost 3 million base pairs --
is to figure out how to selectively knock them out in ways
which will not damage other, beneficial bacteria.
Possible approaches are vaccines, drenches or even
changing forage, say the scientists.


First Published: Saturday, January 30, 2010 - 13:45

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