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The Efficacy of Diet Manipulation for Mitigating Enteric Methane Production in Ruminants

By Katie Beechem

From the Author: Widespread concern over global climate change has spurred a proliferation of research studies that seek to illuminate effective strategies for mitigating greenhouse gas production. Methane, a potent greenhouse gas with a short chemical lifetime in the atmosphere, has become a primary target for combating climate change over the near-term. With cow flatulence contributing significant amounts of methane to the atmosphere, scientists are looking for ways to reduce these animals’ enteric methane production. In this literature review paper for Dr. Birthe Kjellerup’s Microbiology course, I compile information from numerous scientific studies that examine the efficacy of adjusting cattle diets and manipulating enteric microflora to achieve this end. Both the potential and the pitfalls of these processes are apparent.

From the Faculty Nominator: Katie wrote "The Efficacy of Diet Manipulation for Mitigating Enteric Methane Production in Ruminants" for Bio354 (Microbiology and Immunology). The assignment was to review a research topic of the students own choice related to either environmental or human microbiology. The paper was based on a scientific question or hypothesis that the student either worked to prove or disprove. In addition, the paper included an introduction to the topic as well as a discussion of the current research. Katie decided to discuss the “hot” topic of methane production, since this is a very important environmental issue related to global warming. I was exited about the novel perspective Katie decided to take and was impressed with the comprehensive review of the background literature as well as her understanding of both the microbiology and chemistry related to this topic. Her paper truly gives us a new understanding of the problems related to methane production from ruminants.

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