Researchers study goat gut microbiomes to improve bio-based products

March 15, 2021 |

In California, hoping to discover new and improved ways of processing plant material for industrial purposes, researchers from UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) and the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have been studying the gut microbiomes of the planet’s most prolific herbivores: ruminant animals such as goats.

The team generated reconstructions of the many thousands of microbial genomes present in goat-poop samples – taken from a Santa Barbara Zoo resident named “Elway” – and helped identify genes for metabolic enzymes and other digestion-related proteins.

The work revealed 700 previously unknown microbial species, and also highlighted the importance of anaerobic fungi in the goat gut.

The team’s ultimate goal is to develop an artificial version of an herbivore microbiome, cultured in a bioreactor, that could be used to perform the complex chemistry needed to break down plant matter on an industrial scale.

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Category: Research

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