Methane Roundup

Scientists are fighting climate change, one burp at a time!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

The target? Methane. This gas is much more effective than others at trapping heat in the atmosphere. One source of methane is cows. Cow’s stomachs contain microorganisms that ferment plant matter. One type of bug produces methane in this process. Cows release methane into the atmosphere by belching. In fact, cows and other livestock contribute to twenty percent of global methane emissions!

To stop these emissions, scientists resolved to prevent methane formation in cows. In twenty fifteen, Alexander Hristov and colleagues discovered three nitrooxypropanol, or three N O P. It’s a small molecule that reduces methane emissions in the cow gut.

Recently, Evert Ruin and collaborators extended these findings. They showed that three N O P shuts down the enzyme responsible for methane production.
In both studies, the scientists added three N O P in cow feed. Result? Three N O P reduced emissions from cows by thirty percent! AND the cows were not harmed by it!

One win against climate change! An udder bonus? Well-mannered cows.