Effect of the macroalgae Asparagopsis taxiformis on methane production and rumen microbiome assemblage
Recent studies using batch-fermentation suggest that the red macroalgae Asparagopsis taxiformis has the potential to reduce methane (CH4) production from beef cattle by up to ~ 99% when added to Rhodes grass hay; a common feed in the Australian beef industry. These experiments have shown significant reductions in CH4 without compromising other fermentation parameters (i.e. volatile fatty acid production) with A. taxiformis organic matter (OM) inclusion rates of up to 5%. In the study presented here, A. taxiformis was evaluated for its ability to reduce methane production from dairy cattle fed a mixed ration widely utilized in California, the largest milk producing state in the US.
Fermentation in a semi-continuous in-vitro rumen system suggests that A. taxiformis can reduce methane production from enteric fermentation in dairy cattle by 95% when added at a 5% OM inclusion rate without any obvious negative impacts on volatile fatty acid production. High-throughput 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene amplicon sequencing showed that seaweed amendment effects rumen microbiome consistent with the Anna Karenina hypothesis, with increased β-diversity, over time scales of approximately 3 days. The relative abundance of methanogens in the fermentation vessels amended with A. taxiformis decreased significantly compared to control vessels, but this reduction in methanogen abundance was only significant when averaged over the course of the experiment. Alternatively, significant reductions of CH4 in the A. taxiformis amended vessels was measured in the early stages of the experiment. This suggests that A. taxiformis has an immediate effect on the metabolic functionality of rumen methanogens whereas its impact on microbiome assemblage, specifically methanogen abundance, is delayed.
The methane reducing effect of A. taxiformis during rumen fermentation makes this macroalgae a promising candidate as a biotic methane mitigation strategy for dairy cattle. But its effect in-vivo (i.e. in dairy cattle) remains to be investigated in animal trials. Furthermore, to obtain a holistic understanding of the biochemistry responsible for the significant reduction of methane, gene expression profiles of the rumen microbiome and the host animal are warranted.
Keywords16S rRNA community profiling Asparagopsis taxiformis Feed supplementation Greenhouse gas mitigation In-vitro rumen fermentation Macroalgae Rumen microbiome
- 16S rRNA
16 Svedberg ribosomal ribonucleic acid
Analysis of molecular variance
Flame ionization detector
Institution of Animal Care and Use Committee
Operational taxonomic unit
Principal coordinate analysis
Polymerase chain reaction
Poly vinyl chloride
Super basic ration
Total digestible nutrients
Total gas production
Volatile fatty acid
The authors would like to thank Kyra Smart, Susan Parkyn and Ania Kossakowski for their assistance in maintaining the artificial rumen system. Authors also express their appreciation to Dr. DePeters and Doug Gisi for providing access to fistulated animals.
This work was supported by the Laboratory Directed Research and Development Program of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory under U.S. Department of Energy Contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231, by ELM Innovations, by the Hellman Foundation, U.S. Department of Agriculture Contract Number: 2017–67007-25944, and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis.
This work was funded by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the University of California, Davis, the Laboratory Directed Research and Development Program of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory under U.S. Department of Energy Contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Contract No. 2017–67007-25944, the Hellman Foundation and by ELM Innovations.
Availability of data and materials
Sequence data generated during this study are available through NCBI’s Sequence Read Archive under the SRA ID SRP152555. Custom-written Java, SQL, and Bash code is available at https://github.com/jladau. All other data is included in this published article and its supplementary information files.
Designed the experiment: BR, CB, EK, JS and MH; Performed the experiments: BR, CB, MH and NN; Generated and analyzed the microbiome data: BR, CB, EE-F, JL, MH and NN. Generated and analyzed GC data: BR, CB, LM, LS, MH, NN, PP; Wrote the paper: BR, CB, EE-F, EK JL, JS, LM, MH and TP. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
All animal procedures were performed in accordance with the Institution of Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) at University of California, Davis under protocol number 19263.
Consent for publication
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
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