Use of ionophores to temporarily suppress enteric methane production:

Adaptation of rumen microbial communities and re-establishment of methane production


Project Leader:  Dr. Karin Wittenberg, Dept. Animal Science, University of Manitoba Email:
Co-Investigators:  Dr. Kim Ominski (U of M) and Dr. Denis Krause (U of M)
Graduate Student:  Jenelle (Bouchard) Hamblin, Dept. Animal Science, University of Manitoba


This study examines the link between microbial community structure and the duration of suppression of methanogens, or methane producing microorganisms in the rumen, due to inclusion of the ionophore monensin in high concentrate and high forage diets.


An initial study by this team, published in 2006, showed inclusion of inonophores suppresses enteric methane emissions from cattle fed both high-forage and high-concentrate diets, but only temporarily. Within three to six weeks, depending on diet, enteric methane emissions were similar to levels from unsupplemented rations (Guan et al. 2006, J. Anim. Sci. 84:1896-1906).

This research shows temporary suppression of methane emissions is caused by a depression in hydrogen-producing bacteria and ciliate protozoa populations that are sensitive to ionophores. As methanogens require hydrogen to generate methane and some methanogenic species live symbiotically with ciliate protozoa, methanogenisis was suppressed until some of these populations began to recover.

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