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2022-01-26| Startups

RumenEra Sets Out to Curb Gas by Researching Cows

by Eduardo Longoria
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Impact NRS LLC (NRS), the National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev (NIBN) and the Agricultural Research Organization (ARO) announced the commencement of their partnership through the launch of RumenEra, Inc.

  

The Sacrifice for a Steak

 

While ruminants are a major source of edible protein products they carry an annual environmental burden of approximately 3.3 tons of CO2-equivalents for each of earth’s 1.5 billion cattle.

These urgent challenges affect all countries, and include adverse climate change, increasing demand for high-quality proteins, diminished land and water availability, and poor animal welfare. As such, the goal of this 3 entity partnership is to work towards a world that can provide the nutritional benefits of cattle without the environmental cost of being responsible for 7% of all methane gas emissions.

Ruminating on the Technology  

 

RumenEra seeks to use microbiome-guided strategies to meet its objectives of balancing nutritional security and economic value with the environmental burden cattle ranching. The company is developing and commercializing products and services for ruminant animals, such as cattle, that will substantially improve global food security, while decreasing environmental impacts, improving animal welfare.

RumenEra is based on research conducted by Prof. Itzhak Mizrahi of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the NIBN who has devised, patented, and validated methodologies of ruminant microbiome assembly dynamics and their connection to cattle physiology and methane emissions. 

This research consists of an examination of the microbiome of the bovine rumen and possible methods to limit the production of methane by a variety of means.

Related Article: Xenotransplantation-A Boon for the Needy or an Ethical Conundrum?

Infographic from Dr.Mehrazi’s Research

 

Along with genetic modification of the bovine’s genetic code, changes can be made to the cow’s feed to decrease methanogenesis as well as modulate the development of the microbiome in young bovines. Among the ideas are replacing methanogenic bacteria with homoacetogens (a group of bacteria that can reduce CO2 to acetate using hydrogen) and could therefore theoretically compete with methanogens. These innovations and knowhow have been exclusively licensed to RumenEra.

“These joint efforts have the potential to ensure enhanced food supply, while protecting our environment for the benefit of generations to come,” Prof. Mizrahi states.

This research has led to the Convergence Innovation platform that uses novel statistical prediction algorithms that can make use of the genomes of archaea to search for mutations that decrease bacterial methanogenesis. 

While these techniques are backed by research they are certainly not without problems. Besides possibly causing unforeseen changes in the metabolism of livestock many of these solutions are limited by either the expense of the inputs, adverse effects on the appetite of the animals or dose dependent poisoning. 

Related Article: OpenBiome and the University of Minnesota collaborate to give Microbes to those in Need

Corporate Hopes

 

Leading the collaboration for the NIBN is CEO Osnat Ohne, Ph.D., said: “We are very excited to be part of a revolutionary commercial initiative that will greatly promote the food and milk economy while saving the planet.”

NRS is both the majority partner and commercial leader of RumenEra and NRS’s partner, The National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev Ltd. is a research institute that serves as an accelerator for technologies originating from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, located on the University’s campus.  

The stakeholders in RumenEra’s work include farmers, integrated food companies, their customers, and major players in the carbon credit markets. RumenEra’s research should be able to reduce the overall production of greenhouse gasses from meat based agriculture and work towards a greener meat industry.

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