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Times Higher Education nomination for metagenomics research

Research into metagenomics and methane emissions has been shortlisted for a Times Higher Education award.

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Ground-breaking research into cattle methane emissions and metagenomics has earned a collaborative project between Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and The Roslin Institute a nomination at this year's Times Higher Education Awards.

The project has been shortlisted in the "Research Project of the Year: STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths)" category at the 14th annual awards.

To address the dual problems of feeding a growing world population while cutting down greenhouse gas emissions from cattle, the research focussing on microbes found in cows' rumen - the first of their four stomachs.

Using state-of-the-art metagenomics technology, the scientists were the first to discover clusters of rumen microbial functional genes that explained more than 80 per cent of the variation in methane emissions and feed conversion efficiency.

This could lead to the breeding of cattle which require less feed to deliver increased meat and milk production together with reduced methane emissions.

The project was led by SRUC's Professor Rainer Roehe, with significant contributions by Professor Mick Watson's team at The Roslin Institute. The results have been published in the PLOS Genetics and had won the journal's 2017 annual prize for outstanding research.

We’re delighted that work we contributed to has been shortlisted for the THE Award and that the potential for this work to pave the way for 'low-emission' cattle has been recognised once again. We employed a relatively new technique called metagenomics, which involves analysing the genetic composition of an entire ecosystem (the rumen) including the microbes that exist within it. Our work with SRUC continues to advance what we know about the microbes that live in and on important farm animal species.

Professor Mick WatsonThe Roslin Institute

With a growing population and increasing demands for meat and milk, we need improved systems for livestock production to ensure that we can feed future generations.

Wayne PowellPrincipal and Chief Executive of SRUC

Times Higher Education is extremely proud to host these awards once again. In yet another record year for entries, and with over 70 institutions represented on the shortlist, it’s a genuine privilege for the THE team and our judges to read through these many and varied tales of excellence from all corners of the UK. It’s a significant achievement to make this shortlist, and we look forward to honouring all the finalists at the Grosvenor in November.

John GillTimes Higher Education Editor

The awards dinner and ceremony will take place on Thursday 29 November in London.

Related links

Original publication

Ideas Become Legend: achievements with an impact

Full list of finalists of THE Awards