Methane is produced in the rumen of ruminant livestock by methanogens and is a major contributor to agricultural greenhouse gases. Vaccination against ruminal methanogens could reduce methane emissions by inducing antibodies in saliva which enter the rumen and impair ability of methanogens to produce methane. Presently, it is not known if vaccination can induce sufficient amounts of antibody in the saliva to target methanogen populations in the rumen and little is known about how long antibody in the rumen remains active. In the current study, sheep were vaccinated twice at a 3-week interval with a model methanogen antigen, recombinant glycosyl transferase protein (rGT2) formulated with one of four adjuvants: saponin, Montanide ISA61, a chitosan thermogel, or a lipid nanoparticle/cationic liposome adjuvant (n = 6/formulation). A control group of sheep (n = 6) was not vaccinated. The highest antigen-specific IgA and IgG responses in both saliva and serum were observed with Montanide ISA61, which promoted levels of salivary antibodies that were five-fold higher than the second most potent adjuvant, saponin. A rGT2-specific IgG standard was used to determine the level of rGT2-specific IgG in serum and saliva. Vaccination with GT2/Montanide ISA61 produced a peak antibody concentration of 7 × 1016 molecules of antigen-specific IgG per litre of saliva, and it was estimated that in the rumen there would be more than 104 molecules of antigen-specific IgG for each methanogen cell. Both IgG and IgA in saliva were shown to be relatively stable in the rumen. Salivary antibody exposed for 1-2 hours to an in vitro simulated rumen environment retained approximately 50% of antigen-binding activity. Collectively, the results from measuring antibody levels and stablility suggest a vaccination-based mitigation strategy for livestock generated methane is in theory feasible.
Subharat, S., Shu, D., Zheng, T., Buddle, B. M., Kaneko, K., Hook, S., … Wedlock, D. N. (2016). Vaccination of sheep with a methanogen protein provides insight into levels of antibody in saliva needed to target ruminal methanogens. PLoS ONE, 11(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0159861