A method to measure methanogenic potential of plants in rumen fluid and improving the quality of pasture legume Trifolium subterraneum (subterranean clover) in Australia is among techniques that will be employed in a project supported in round two of the Australian Research Council Linkage Projects scheme.
The Linkage Projects scheme enables Australian institutions to undertake innovative and cutting-edge research projects in collaboration with industry and other partners.
CLIMA received funding from Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) as the industry partner and Kazusa DNA Research Institute (KDRI) in Japan as overseas collaborating organisation.
Professor William Erskine and Dr Kioumars Ghamkhar of CLIMA lead and co-ordinate a team developing methodologies to enable breeders to identify environmentally friendly subterranean clover and discover the genes controlling this trait in this species. The Mass spectrometry of known and unknown (secondary) compounds would be conducted in conjunction with Metabolomics Australia and Kazusa DNA Research Institute, and industry partner DAFWA will conduct the in vivo methanogenesis tests.
This is a world first effort and will change the way in which grazing is practiced. The applications of this technique include molecular breeding for future environmentally-friendly farming. The best lines (accessions) with maximum nutritive value and minimum methane emission in the rumen will be identified and hence improve planning for future molecular and conventional breeding.”
Dr Ghamkhar also attracted $60,000 funding with a team including KDRI senior researcher and collaborating partner Dr Sachiko Isobe. Further, another small project aims to confirm the earlier results obtained by comparing several pasture species for methanogenic potential and will benefit from the ARC Linkgae project's gene discovery in another pasture species Biserrula pelecinus.
Subterranean clover is the most common pasture species in southern Australia, affecting 22 million hectares of Australian farmland.
The project will also examine isoflavone content and diversity in subterranean clover. These secondary compounds have positive and negative impacts in human and sheep, respectively
The candidate genes discovered in this project would be mapped on the subterranean clover genome map therefore be available for future marker assisted breeding, and have a consequently large impact in the field.
With partner organisation and other collaborators’ cash and in-kind contributions, the value of the project is just under $2.5 million.
This is the second time this research team has succeeded in securing ARC linkage funding in subterranean clover genetics and genomics.