Feeds

Wallabies battle cattle farts

Cork me kangaroo’s bot, Scott

High performance access to file storage

The Tammar Wallaby’s digestive system is getting agricultural researchers excited, after researchers from Australia’s science agency CSIRO found its gut generates far lower methane emissions than cattle.

Methane poses a greenhouse conundrum for policy makers: our dependence on livestock for meat means we keep lots of ruminants around, which generate lots of methane. Since most countries are reluctant to impose a state-sponsored vegetarianism, researchers are working hard to cut down the world's vast cloud of ruminant methane.

Enter the Tammar Wallaby: it generates 80 percent less of the gas per unit of digestible energy than livestock animals. Mark Morrison, an Ohio State University animal sciences professor who is also science leader in metagenomics at CSIRO’s Livestock Industries division, says the efficiency of the macropod’s digestive system offers another payoff – better nutrient retention.

The key lies in a bacterium in the wallaby’s gut, which Morrison’s group sequenced and isolated and believe could be used to augment the microbes normally present in livestock digestive systems.

Marsupials and ruminants share a “pre-digestive” fermentation process to break down plant food, and this fermentation produces methane. However, it’s been known for some time that while cattle and sheep turn as much as 10 percent of their food into methane, the Tammar Wallaby produces only 1 percent to 2 percent.

The CSIRO researchers have identified the key bacterium in the marsupial: a member of the Succinivibrionaceae called WG-1, which produces succinate rather than methane as a by-product of fermentation. The succinate locks up hydrogen and carbon that would otherwise by grabbed by methane-producing bacteria.

Morrison says that Succinivibrionaceae also exist in ruminants, but have not been a focus of study in the past. “Our findings with the Tammar wallaby were a bit of a surprise, but we think they provide an important clue for how rumen fermentation might be directed away from methane formation." ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Russian deputy PM: 'We are coming to the Moon FOREVER'
Plans to annex Earth's satellite with permanent base by 2030
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
Get your MOON GEAR: Auction to feature Space Race memorabilia
Keepsakes from early NASA, Soviet programs up for bids
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.