Queensland gut microbes go international!

Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and University of Queensland researchers are currently looking at new ways to increase the productivity of ruminant livestock. Understanding the way animals digest their feed and improving the efficiency of feed breakdown is one area being actively investigated.

The microbes living in the enlarged fore-stomach (rumen) of herbivores such as cattle and sheep are the key drivers of feed digestion.

Over the last fifty years, there has been a world-wide research effort to isolate rumen microbes and as part of this effort, DAF and UQ researchers have built up an extensive culture collection of rumen microbes.

Now a New Zealand-based, Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases initiative, called the Hungate1000 project, is using modern genome sequencing technologies to fully characterise rumen microbes and is accepting microbes from laboratories based all over the world.

The Hungate1000 project aims to sequence 1000 rumen microbes, including bacteria, methanogenic archaea, fungi, protozoa and microbial viruses. The resulting microbial sequences will be deposited in international, publically available genome sequence databases. In this way the data obtained can be used to further agricultural research efforts within Australia and overseas, including developing countries.

The DAF Rumen Ecology Unit is excited to be involved in this international collaboration and is pleased to be able to contribute microbial viruses and rumen bacteria isolated from Queensland cattle.

Visit www.hungate1000.org.nz for more information about the project.