Accelerated and targeted discovery of cellulases: translational implications of omics based ruminant microbiome research

Project Details

Status: Completed
Investment: $174,300
Commodity: Multiple Livestock
Organization: University of Alberta
Investigator: Leluo Guan

Improved fibre digestibility will allow for better feed utilization, faster animal growth rate, and lowered feed-related costs fro the ruminant industry.

Why is this research important for Alberta ag?

This project aims to discover novel fibre degrading enzymes using a targeted and accelerated method. Enzymes will be identified from rumen microbiomes of multiple ruminant species including cattle, bison, water buffalo and yak using an innovative multiome-based approach by which all of the enzymes are the "true" enzymes being produced by the rumen microbiota and with known structures. It allows for selective enzyme expression and purification by defining the transcripts encoding the enzymes with the predicted 3D structures rather than purifying proteins from cloning and expression of hundreds of different putative genes.

This is a breakthrough from the currently existing enzyme discovery system since the enzyme target is specific with known structure and binding capacity. The efficacy of the obtained enzymes will then be tested for fibre digestibility using an in vitro rumen fermentation system.

What benefits can Alberta producers expect from this research?

The industry will benefit from this project by shortening the procedures and time of enzyme discovery, as well as to obtain novel and applicable enzymes in a more accurate and effective way. Improved fibre digestibility will allow for better feed utilization, faster animal growth rate, and lowered feed-related costs for the ruminant industry.

The success of ruminants in digesting fibre largely depend on the ability of ruminal microorganisms to produce the enzymes to break down the plant complex structural carbohydrates, as the ruminant itself lacks the ability to produce the enzymes involved in lignocellulose degradation. It will also allow the industry to reduce feed costs by increasing the usage of low-quality forage and reducing the usage of grain in animal feed.

How will these research findings reach producers on-farm?

Findings will be published in multiple scientific journals and shared at conferences and workshops. Researchers will also publish articles in the Western Producer and Canadian Cattlemen's Magazine. Findings will also be shared through various organization newsletters, such as Alberta Beef Producers and Alberta Feeders Association.

Findings will also be disseminated through online educational videos, online courses, and workshops/technical seminars for producers either on-site or on-line using webinars. Researchers will also participate in industrial meetings to present the findings and develop further opportunities for knowledge transfer.

Funded in part by the Government of Canada under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.