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Progress in the development of vaccines against rumen methanogens

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 June 2013

D. N Wedlock*
AgResearch, Hopkirk Research Institute, Private Bag 11008, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand
P. H. Janssen
AgResearch, Grasslands Research Centre, Private Bag 11008, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand
S. C. Leahy
AgResearch, Grasslands Research Centre, Private Bag 11008, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand
D. Shu
AgResearch, Hopkirk Research Institute, Private Bag 11008, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand
B. M. Buddle
AgResearch, Hopkirk Research Institute, Private Bag 11008, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand
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Vaccination against rumen methanogens offers a practical approach to reduce methane emissions in livestock, particularly ruminants grazing on pasture. Although successful vaccination strategies have been reported for reducing the activity of the rumen-dwelling organism Streptococcus bovis in sheep and S. bovis and Lactobacillus spp. in cattle, earlier approaches using vaccines based on whole methanogen cells to reduce methane production in sheep have produced less promising results. An anti-methanogen vaccine will need to have broad specificity against methanogens commonly found in the rumen and induce antibody in saliva resulting in delivery of sufficiently high levels of antibodies to the rumen to reduce methanogen activity. Our approach has focussed on identifying surface and membrane-associated proteins that are conserved across a range of rumen methanogens. The identification of potential vaccine antigens has been assisted by recent advances in the knowledge of rumen methanogen genomes. Methanogen surface proteins have been shown to be immunogenic in ruminants and vaccination of sheep with these proteins induced specific antibody responses in saliva and rumen contents. Current studies are directed towards identifying key candidate antigens and investigating the level and types of salivary antibodies produced in sheep and cattle vaccinated with methanogen proteins, stability of antibodies in the rumen and their impact on rumen microbial populations. In addition, there is a need to identify adjuvants that stimulate high levels of salivary antibody and are suitable for formulating with protein antigens to produce a low-cost and effective vaccine.

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Copyright © The Animal Consortium 2013 

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