1 Jul 2009

Animal digestion research being funded by US agency

12:55 pm on 1 July 2009

Scientists researching how microbes break down plant material in ruminant animals, may also get an insight into efficient biofuel production, thanks to a funding boost from a United States agency.

The scientists based at AgResearch's Grasslands campus in Palmerston North, are looking at forage digestion in sheep and cattle, say there are spin-off applications for the biofuels area.

The Foundation for Research Science & Technology is funding the project.

But DNA sequencing work, estimated at costing around $NZ100,000, which is a necessary part of the study, will now be done by the US Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute, free of charge.

AgResearch molecular biologist Graeme Attwood says understanding the digestion process is not only important for meat, milk and wool production, but also greenhouse gases associated with agricultural emissions such as nitrous oxide.