Cattle on the Prairies are hundreds of kilometres from the coast and yet it’s possible that seaweed could make its way into their diet as an additive.
“Seaweed is an incredible opportunity. It is a sustainable feedstock. It grows rapidly, it doesn’t require arable land or fresh water to grow,” said Wade Abbott, research scientist at Agriculture and Agi-Food Canada’s Lethbridge Research and Development Centre.
It may seem like a leap to go from the human gut to that of cattle, but Abbott explained that by understanding the human gut microbiome, or microorganisms, and the microbiome’s ability to use the sugars found in seaweed in its symbiotic relationship with the host, he sees potential to expand what is now a limited use of algae products.
Image: Culturing gut bacteria in the lab (shown in these test tubes) allows researchers to determine which genes in the genomes of bacteria are activated and discover new enzymes that digest rare substrates like agarose.
Credit: Wade Abbott