Animal Science, Department of


Date of this Version

November 2007


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska in Partial Fulfillment of Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy; Major: Animal Science.
Lincoln, Nebraska; December, 2007
Copyright © 2007 Eric J. Behlke.


Ruminal methanogens reduce carbon dioxide to methane (CH4), thereby preventing hydrogen use by bacteria for VFA synthesis resulting in a 2 to 12% loss in feed gross energy. Methane is a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. The objectives of this work were to determine: 1) the extent to which ruminal cultures acquire resistance to a nitrofuranyl derivative of para-aminobenzoate (NFP) and an extract from the plant Yucca shidigera (Yucca); 2) the effect of distillers dried grains plus solubles (DDGS) on ruminal CH4 production; 3) the effect of brome hay-based diets, corn-based diets, and in vivo 2-bromoethansulfonate treatment on ruminal methane (CH4) production; and 4) the effect of the above treatments on the methanogen population. Ruminal cultures treated with NFP for 90 d maintained a diminished capacity to generate CH4, but cultures became resistant to the inhibitory effects of Yucca treatment within 10 d. Both treatments decreased (P < 0.01) the relative abundance of total Archaea and the order Methanomicrobiales, but Yucca treatment increased (P < 0.01) the relative abundance of the order Methanobacteriales. The replacement of brome hay and corn with DDGS in lamb diets decreased (P < 0.01) and increased (P < 0.05), respectively, the amount of CH4 produced per unit of digested DM. The substitution of DDGS for brome hay increased (P < 0.01) the relative abundance of the order Methanomicrobiales. The replacement of brome hay with corn decreased (P < 0.05) the amount of CH4 produced per unit of digested DM, and also decreased (P < 0.05) the relative abundance of both Archaea and the order Methanomicrobiales. However, the abundance of the order Methanobacteriales increased (P < 0.05) as corn replaced brome hay. Intraruminal administration of 2-bromoethansulfonate decreased (P < 0.05) CH4 emissions, and decreased (P < 0.05) the relative abundance of Archaea and Methanobacteriales. In conclusion, NFP may be efficacious for chronically inhibiting ruminal methanogenesis, and the replacement of dietary forage with DDGS attenuates CH4 emissions from ruminant animals. Changes in domain- and order-specific ribosomal DNA indicators of methanogens are not consistently correlated with changes in CH4 production.
Advisor: Professor Jess L. Miner