Wellington, June 3 : Scientists in New Zealand have made a breakthrough in methane research that could reduce the amount of gas farm animals produce.
Methane produced by farm animals accounts for 32 per cent of New Zealand's total greenhouse gas emissions.
Now, scientists from the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium have mapped the genetic sequence of a microbe, which produces methane from the rumen of cattle and sheep.
The project team, led by Dr Graeme Attwood of AgResearch, spent five years studying the micro organisms called methanogens to determine their genetic code.
According to Consortium chairman Mark Leslie, the completion of the research was a significant milestone that would help researchers gain a better understanding of how methanogens work.
"While we still have some way to go in finding a solution to reduce methane emissions, closing this genomic sequence is an important piece of the complex puzzle," he said.
The consortium believed it was still five years away from providing practical solutions to reduce methane emissions, and another 10 years away from seeing cost effective changes integrated into farm systems and widely adopted by farmers.
Ultimately, the solution could be delivered in the form of a drench, vaccine or by changing forage (feed) systems for animals.