Researchers control cattle microbiomes to reduce methane and greenhouse gases

June 01, 2020

Ben-Gurion University Researchers Control Cattle Microbiomes to Produce Less Methane and Reduce Greenhouse Gases

BEER-SHEVA, Israel, June 1, 2020 - Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers have learned to control the microbiome of cattle for the first time which could inhibit their methane production, and therefore reduce a major source of greenhouse gasses.

The findings from Prof. Itzhak Mizrahi's findings were published recently in Nature Communications. Prof. Mizrahi is a member of the Department of Life Sciences in the Faculty of Natural Sciences and the National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev (NIBN).

The animal microbiome is a scientifically unexplored area. It protects against germs, breaks down food to release energy, and produces vitamins and exerts great control over many aspects of animal and human physical systems. Microbes are introduced at birth and produce a unique microbiome that evolves over time.

Mizrahi and his group have been conducting a three-year experiment with 50 cows divided into two groups. One group gave birth naturally, and the other through cesarean section. That difference was enough to change microbiome development and composition microbiome of the cows from each group.

This finding enabled Mizrahi's team together with Prof. Eran Halperin's group at UCLA to develop an algorithm that predicts the microbiome development and how it will evolve over time based on its present composition.

"Now that we know we can influence the microbiome development, we can use this knowledge to modulate microbiome composition to lower the environmental impact of methane from cows by guiding them to our desired outcomes," Mizrahi says.

Prof. Mizrahi has investigated the microbiome of cows, fish and other species to address world issues shaped by climate change. Reducing methane emissions from cows will reduce global warming. Engineering healthier fish, which is another of Mizrahi's projects, is especially important as the oceans empty of fish and aquaculture becomes the major source of seafood.
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About NIBN

The National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev Ltd. (NIBN), is a unique research institute located within Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Israel. Its mission is to conduct multi-disciplinary, applied and innovative research guided by a biotechnological vision and to lead the commercialization of novel technologies developed by NIBN researchers.

NIBN research fields focus on cancer, infectious diseases, autoimmune and metabolic diseases, human genetic disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, and applied biotechnology, including AgBio.

The NIBN has 24 leading researchers (BGU faculty members), nearly 175 graduate students, including post-doctoral fellows, and some 40 technical and administrative staff. The NIBN holds a patent portfolio of around 50 patent families and NIBN members have published over 800 articles in leading scientific journals. A number of technologies that have been licensed and either led to the establishment of spin-off companies or have been directly incorporated into the pipelines of bio companies. For more information visit the NIBN website.

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU) plays a vital role in sustaining David Ben-Gurion's vision: creating a world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community and sharing the University's expertise locally and around the globe. As Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) turns 50 this year, AABGU imagines a future that goes beyond the walls of academia. It is a future where BGU invents a new world and inspires a vision for a stronger Israel and its next generation of leaders. Together with supporters, AABGU will help the University foster excellence in teaching, research and outreach to the communities of the Negev for the next 50 years and beyond. Visit vision.aabgu.org to learn more. AABGU, headquartered in Manhattan, has nine regional offices throughout the United States. For more information visit http://www.aabgu.org.

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

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