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ProAgni is proud to be announced as a CRC SAAFE Partner


ProAgni CFO and Co-Founder Fiona Soulsby recently participated on the CRC SAAFE interview team in Canberra.

CRC SAAFE – Cooperative Research Centre for Solving Antimicrobial Resistance in Agribusiness, Food and Environments was awarded 34.5 Million and will leverage approximately $150 Million in cash and in-kind contributions from 53 partners working across 5 states and territories of Australia.  The CRC will run for 10 years, and will help solve antimicrobial resistance challenges posing a growing threat to Australia’s food, agribusiness, and environmental sectors.

Fiona said “AMR is a health risk, and a social license risk. Market rules are changing.” Producers need access to tools and solutions to not only continue to access valuable export markets, but also exploit opportunities in new and emerging markets.  ProAgni’s participation in CRC SAAFE, provides support to an environment for those tools and solutions to be developed and deployed, safe guarding our existing industry and providing market ready opportunities for 2022 and Beyond.

ProAgni looks forward to being part of this change and continuing to support UN SDG 3. To find out more about CRC SAAFE go to their website or

Click here to read the  CRC SAAFE Information Brochure JULY 2021 V11

Learning From Nature, how to Eliminate Livestock Methane Emissions

Athol Klieve

Ash Sweeting in conversation with Prof Athol Klieve – University of Queensland

Could nature provide a map to greatly reduce the climate impact of animal agriculture. Dr Athol Klieve has spent his career researching the microbiome of ruminants and kangaroos and why ruminants produce methane and kangaroos do not. In our conversation Athol also explains how there are no identifiable patterns in nature as to why a particular species produces methane or does not produce methane and that with us humans, some of us produce methane and some of us don’t. The exciting thing is that the current situation is not fixed, things can be changed.

Athol also delves deeply into the complex community structures within the microbiome, how microorganisms cooperate with each other, how they compete, how they protect or sabotage other microbes and, how they communicate or talk to each other. He also discussed the adaptability of microbes to change their metabolism and even genetic pathways under different conditions. The ultimate focus of Athol’s research has been how to better understand these complex ecosystems to improve animal agriculture and drastically reduce livestock methane emissions.

Athol is scientific advisor at ProAgni and ProAgni is commercialising probiotics that have come from Athol’s research.

I recently caught up with Athol to hear more about his work.

ProAgni Podcast Food Sustainability

Dr Matthias Hess, UC Davis talks – ruminant methane production

Dr Matthias Hess, UC Davis

By Ash Sweeting

Dr Matthias Hess has been spearheading the assessment of compounds and feed additives for their impact on cattle methane emissions in the United States. Matthias is a microbiologist in the department of animal science at UC Davis where he has spent the last 8 years looking into the ruminant microbiome to better understanding how these different microbes breakdown complex plant materials into smaller molecules that can be utilized by the animal.

Matthias current work is leading research focused on understanding the biochemistry of how these microbes convert plant materials into small molecules that can be utilized by the animal. A huge part of his work is looking at the production of undesirable metabolites and especially methane with the aim of finding solutions to how methane emissions can be reduced.

The exciting news is that his team is using new techniques including DNA, RNA, and protein analytics to understand the microbial processes in the rumen on a molecular level.  This is leading to a much better understanding of not just the species of bacteria, archaea, and also fungi in the rumen, but more importantly how they interact, what activates these microbes, and the intracellular communications that control what genes are switched on at any point in time.

Ultimately, as methane production is an energy inefficiency within the ruminant digestive system Matthias thinks solutions that solve the methane problem will also increase protein production. That said, because of the complexity if the rumen microbiome it is highly probable that there will be different solutions for not different production systems, grazing and fed animals, and also for different environments.

I recently caught up with Matthias to hear more about his work, where he sees the greatest potential for progress and what’s needed to move from the laboratory into animal production systems. Our conversation was edited for clarity and length.


How complex is methane production, how many processes are involved in creating methane, and does the complexity mean there are more opportunities for interventions to reduce methane emissions?


That’s a good question. Yes – unfortunately there is not a one-fits-all solution. Think about the fact that the rumen microbiome evolved over 1000s and 1000s of years to digest very different plant materials. The microbiome has the ability to adjust its metabolic process to degrade and metabolize the different feeds. So if you develop a solution for one diet and it might not work for a diet that is significantly different.


Where do you see the most exciting opportunities to mitigate methane?


I think what is really exciting is that we have new techniques that allow us to investigate microbes we have not been able to study in the past. Historically, people have been relying on the ability to isolate, cultivate and subsequentially study microbes in the laboratory and that left only a rather limited number of rumen microbes to study. Now, there are techniques where you can actually extract different biological molecules, such as DNA, RNA and protein, from your sample without the need to isolate and grow the microbes they come from in the laboratory. With the information we obtain from these molecules we can determine which microbes are there and then try to understand what these microbes do in their natural habitat.

In the past, people have been mostly working on rumen bacteria, and to some extent on other microbes that are called archaea. There are microbes that are responsible for methane production. With the new technologies mentioned earlier we can now also study rumen fungi. It was not until recently that we understood that fungi can grow in the absence of oxygen and that these rumen fungi are really efficient in degrading plant material that comes into the rumen. So it’s only over the last couple of years that we are starting putting together the more complete picture of the different aspects that really make the rumen such an efficient system for converting plant material into molecules that can be used by the ruminant animal.


I wasn’t aware of the rumen fungi. How important are they?


We know that there are quite a few, but we don’t necessarily know exactly since this remains a relatively unexplored area. Until about three years we thought that there would be only 4-5 phylogenetic groups. Now we think that there are at least eight.


Is it the presence of microbe species or the relationships and interactions between all these species including how they communicate that’s most important?


Yes – more important than who is there – it is more important what these different players are doing and how they interact with each other. This is reflected in the data we obtain when we track these communities and their function over time. Different organisms have different functional roles at different times.

When you look at DNA, RNA or proteins you get a snapshot in time and in space – and you see differences in space, but also in time. For example, when we looked at the different microbial proteins being produced, we could see that enzymes contributed by fungi and by bacteria differed from each other. Interesting is that we know that bacteria also produce enzymes that were produced by the fungi at this time point – but they seem to be just not be produced by the bacterial population at this particular moment.

Keep in mind that may of these rumen fungi are filamentous, which means that they grow long filaments  very slowly, but they are also really capable of penetrating the biomass really deeply. The assumption is that the bacteria tried to colonize relatively quickly and break down some of the easily accessible sugars. Whereas the fungi started to grow slowly and penetrated the plant materials – especially those fractions that are not easily accessible to the bacteria who colonized the plant material first.


Talking about the different microbes there needs to be some form of intracellular communications or stimulus to turn certain genes off or turn certain genes on. How do you see that space? And is there any, any indication that one of those areas is showing more promise in terms of being able to adapt the fermentation than in the others?


That’s the million dollar question. What I believe to be the most promising field is to take material that’s already generated and that is currently considered to be waste.  For example food waste or agricultural waste and that we could convert into a value added feed additive.

Either direct feeding or extracting chemicals or small molecules from the food waste is highly promising. I would love to see the area going both ways since this would solve two problems at the same time: we would upgrade food waste or waste in general and utilize it to improve protein production.


Do you see there being the same solution for grazing animals as well as fed animals or do you think there’s going to be two different approaches for those different production systems?


I think it will  that solutions will be different. If you think about animals that you have in a feedlot, you can just basically add some feed additives, right? You can’t have that for grazing animals. The solution might need to  be either vaccine based solution or something that you can add to the drinking water.

I think even within the same animal system, for grazing or feedlot systems, there will be different solutions depending on where you are. So again, this is a more complex problem that requires a multi-dimensional solution.

And I think the other thing we need to think about is that as important as it is to reduce methane emission we also need to think about how we can convert the feed into more protein.


Back to the rumen microbiome because the methane issue is essentially inefficiency from an energy perspective. How do you see the potential of reducing methane and increasing productivity?


This is a great question and not one that is easy to answer. Unless there’s some direct benefit on the productivity side, it will not be feasible to put any methane reducing solution into application. In order to make it to the market potential solution will have to be economical. In other words, the solution needs to reduce methane and at the same time increase the amount of protein that is produced per amount of feed.  Although this is a huge challenge, with all the new technologies and the interdisciplinary work that is underway this is not an unreasonable goal.


If you had the open checkbook and access to whatever equipment and whatever team you wanted to throw out this what would you look at doing?


Ha – I would call that a trick question. More realistically, and hoping that more funds will continue to come in I would like to expand on what we are doing right now and to try to figure out what is actually happening on the molecular basis in the rumen ecosystem. So in essence to figure out what are the molecules that are basically being transitioned between different microbes and how this affects the rumen function and eventually the rumen output, such as methane and protein.

I think that it’s not too lofty of a goal. In fact we’re getting pretty close to being able to do this.


Beef Alliance announce top 10

ProAgni - US Beef Alliance Finalists

Australian ag biotech company ProAgni is a finalist in the inaugural US Beef Alliance Startup Challenge. The ten finalists were announced by the US Beef Alliance today each of which will pitch their efforts in developing sustainable, environmental and positive economic solutions specific to the cattle feeding industry.

The inspiration for ProAgni was guided by digestive efficiencies in the kangaroo. The science behind how Kangaroos efficient convert grass in meat with little to no methane emissions has guided the company product development. The vision is to solve two of the world’s most pressing environmental and medical health issues – emissions from livestock and excessive use and reliance on antibiotics.

 “Using radical science, we’ve removed the requirement for non-therapeutic antibiotic use we see in livestock feeds without a cost burden to cattle producers. This product is a simple switch out” explained Lachlan Campbell, Proagni’s CEO and Co-Founder. “commercial trials have also demonstrated significant gain increases compared to industry-standard feeds and all without the use of growth-promoting antibiotics.”

More than 30 international early-stage companies submitted applications with products ranging across hardware, software, and biotech solutions. Applications were received from companies around the world. They were evaluated by executives, nutritionists, and veterinarians from Beef Alliance member cattle feeding companies.

Beef Alliance members were thrilled with both the diversity, quantity and the quality of startup companies that applied for Startup Challenge,” said Scott Whitefoot, Beef Alliance chairman. “Cattle feeding is complex, diverse and highly challenging, and many of the solutions being developed by these early-stage companies could greatly benefit the cattle feeding industry.”

On March 9, ProAgni will pitch their product directly to major US feed yard decision makers for the opportunity to win a $50,000 USD cash prize and the chance at a pilot with a Beef Alliance member company. The winner will be announced in the weeks following the competition.

The Beef Alliance Startup Challenge is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to align US producers with international biotechnology start-ups like ProAgni- gain visibility to these cutting-edge technology solutions and to put our antibiotic-reducing cattle nutrition solutions to work” comments Lachlan Campbell