Algae have become an area of intensive research in many fields of study. Areas of application are becoming increasingly diverse with the advent of technologies particularly in the mass production of algae biomass. Algae contain complex bioactive compounds and these are gaining importance in emerging technologies with nutritional and environmental applications. In this study, a preliminary investigation evaluated 15 species of algae from the major categories of marine and fresh water algae for their potential as inclusions in ruminant diets for management of greenhouse gas emissions. It was hypothesized that algae would positively affect rumen fermentation and gas production while reducing methane production. The hypothesis was tested using an Ankom automated gas monitoring system and rumen fluid from Bos indicus steers fed tropical forage diets. The results were variable between algae species with some showing a significant reduction in total gas and methane production, with others increasing gas and fermentation. The red and brown algae stand out as having potential for greenhouse gas mitigation with the brown alga Cystoseira having the most prominent effect. The effects observed on fermentation may be manipulated through dosage management and beneficial effects could be potentially maximized by preparing combinations of algal supplements. It has been demonstrated in this study that algae have the potential to assist in rumen fermentation management for improved gas production, and greenhouse gas abatement.
American Journal of Plant Sciences / Vol. 4, No. 12B, pp.34-43