Animal Production Science Animal Production Science Society
Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals
RESEARCH ARTICLE

The red macroalgae Asparagopsis taxiformis is a potent natural antimethanogenic that reduces methane production during in vitro fermentation with rumen fluid

Robert D. Kinley A C , Rocky de Nys B , Matthew J. Vucko B , Lorenna Machado B and Nigel W. Tomkins A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A CSIRO Agriculture, Australian Tropical Science and Innovation Precinct, James Cook University, Townsville, Qld 4811, Australia.

B MACRO-Centre for Macroalgal Resources and Biotechnology, College of Marine and Environmental Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, Qld 4811, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: rob.kinley@csiro.au

Animal Production Science 56(3) 282-289 https://doi.org/10.1071/AN15576
Submitted: 14 September 2015  Accepted: 23 November 2015   Published: 9 February 2016

Abstract

Livestock feed modification is a viable method for reducing methane emissions from ruminant livestock. Ruminant enteric methane is responsible approximately to 10% of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia. Some species of macroalgae have antimethanogenic activity on in vitro fermentation. This study used in vitro fermentation with rumen inoculum to characterise increasing inclusion rates of the red macroalga Asparagopsis taxiformis on enteric methane production and digestive efficiency throughout 72-h fermentations. At dose levels ≤1% of substrate organic matter there was minimal effect on gas and methane production. However, inclusion ≥2% reduced gas and eliminated methane production in the fermentations indicating a minimum inhibitory dose level. There was no negative impact on substrate digestibility for macroalgae inclusion ≤5%, however, a significant reduction was observed with 10% inclusion. Total volatile fatty acids were not significantly affected with 2% inclusion and the acetate levels were reduced in favour of increased propionate and, to a lesser extent, butyrate which increased linearly with increasing dose levels. A barrier to commercialisation of Asparagopsis is the mass production of this specific macroalgal biomass at a scale to provide supplementation to livestock. Another area requiring characterisation is the most appropriate method for processing (dehydration) and feeding to livestock in systems with variable feed quality and content. The in vitro assessment method used here clearly demonstrated that Asparagopsis can inhibit methanogenesis at very low inclusion levels whereas the effect in vivo has yet to be confirmed.

Additional keyword: greenhouse gas, ruminant, seaweed.


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