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Enzyme- and gene-based approaches for developing methanogen-specific compounds to control ruminant methane emissions: a review

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-03, 09:12 authored by Gemma Henderson, G. M. Cook, Ron RonimusRon Ronimus
Methane emissions from ruminants are of worldwide concern due to their potential to adversely affect climate patterns. Methane emissions can be mitigated in several ways, including dietary manipulation, the use of alternative hydrogen sinks, and by the direct inhibition of methanogens. In the present review, we summarise and emphasise studies where defined chemically synthesised compounds have been used to mitigate ruminant methane emissions by direct targeting of methanogens and discuss the future potential of such inhibitors. We also discuss experiments, where methanogen-specific enzymes and pure cultures of methanobacterial species have been used to aid development of inhibitors. Application of certain compounds can result in dramatic reductions of methane emissions from ruminant livestock, demonstrating ‘proof of principle’ of chemical inhibitors of methanogenesis. More recently, genome sequencing of rumen methanogens has enabled an in-depth analysis of the enzymatic pathways required for methane formation. Chemogenomic methods, similar to those used in the fight against cancer and infectious diseases, can now be used to specifically target a pathway or enzyme in rumen methanogens. However, few rumen methanogen enzymes have been structurally or biochemically characterised. Any compound, whether natural or man-made, that is used as a mitigation strategy will need to be non-toxic to the host animal (and humans), cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and not accumulate in host tissues or milk products. Chemically synthesised inhibitors offer potentially significant advantages, including high levels of sustained inhibition, the ability to be easily and rapidly produced for global markets, and have the potential to be incorporated into slow-release vehicles for grazing animals.


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© CSIRO 2018


  • English

Does this contain Māori information or data?

  • No



Journal title

Animal Production Science




Henderson, G., Cook, G. M., & Ronimus, R. S. (2018). Enzyme- and gene-based approaches for developing methanogen-specific compounds to control ruminant methane emissions: a review. Animal Production Science, 58(6), 1017–1026. doi:10.1071/AN15757

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