Gene Editing for Low Emission Livestock

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Gene editing for low-emission livestock involves using advanced gene editing technologies, such as CRISPR-Cas9, to modify the genetic makeup of livestock animals with the goal of reducing their environmental impact. This can include targeting genes involved in methane production, feed efficiency, disease resistance, and other traits that contribute to the sustainability of livestock production.

Impact on climate action

Gene editing for low-emission livestock could revolutionize climate action by reducing methane emissions from animal agriculture. By targeting specific genes, this innovation aims to produce livestock with reduced methane production, mitigating a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and promoting sustainable farming practices for a healthier planet.


This innovative approach leverages several key technologies and concepts:

  • Gene Editing Technologies: CRISPR-Cas9 and other gene editing tools allow scientists to precisely target and modify specific DNA sequences within the genome of an organism. This enables the introduction of beneficial mutations, deletion of harmful genes, or insertion of new genetic material.
  • Livestock Genomics: Understanding the genetic basis of traits related to livestock emissions and efficiency is crucial for identifying target genes for editing. This involves mapping the livestock genome and identifying genes associated with methane production, feed utilization, and other relevant traits.
  • Animal Breeding and Reproduction: Gene-edited animals can be incorporated into breeding programs to disseminate desirable traits within livestock populations. Assisted reproductive technologies, such as artificial insemination and embryo transfer, can accelerate this process.
  • Animal Welfare Considerations: Ethical considerations and animal welfare implications are paramount in gene editing applications for livestock. Rigorous scientific evaluation and adherence to animal welfare guidelines are essential.

TRL : 3-5 (Gene editing for low-emission livestock is still largely in the research and development phase, with significant progress being made in proof-of-concept studies and laboratory experiments. However, translating these findings to real-world applications and commercialization faces regulatory and societal hurdles).

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Targeting Methane Production Pathways: Researchers are identifying and targeting genes involved in the methane production pathway in ruminant animals, aiming to reduce methane emissions directly at the source.
  • Enhancing Feed Efficiency: Gene editing can be used to improve the efficiency of feed utilization in livestock, leading to a reduction in feed consumption and associated environmental impacts.
  • Improving Disease Resistance: Enhancing disease resistance through gene editing can reduce the need for antibiotics and improve animal health, indirectly reducing emissions related to disease treatment.
  • Tailoring Microbiome Composition: Research is exploring the potential of gene editing to modify the gut microbiome of livestock, promoting the growth of microbes that produce less methane or enhance feed digestion.
  • Developing Gene Editing Tools for Livestock: Scientists are developing new and more efficient gene editing tools specifically optimized for livestock applications.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Precision Methane Reduction
  • CRISPR-Cas9 for Livestock Emissions
  • Genomic Targets for Emission Reduction
  • Ethical Considerations in Livestock Gene Editing
  • Methane Pathway Gene Editing
  • Feed Utilization Enhancement
  • Disease Resistance Gene Editing
  • Microbiome Modification for Emission Reduction
  • Sustainable Livestock Genetics
  • Methane Mitigation Strategies
  • Precision Livestock Breeding
  • Microbiome Engineering for Livestock
  • Genetic Solutions for Livestock Emissions

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  • Recombinetics:
    • Technology Focus: Recombinetics specializes in precision breeding and gene editing technologies for livestock. Their focus is on developing genetically modified animals with traits that contribute to reduced emissions, such as lower methane production or improved feed efficiency.
    • Uniqueness: They stand out for their expertise in gene editing techniques like CRISPR-Cas9 and their ability to apply these technologies to livestock breeding. By targeting specific genes associated with emissions, they offer a unique solution for addressing environmental concerns in animal agriculture.
    • End-User Segments: Their solutions cater to livestock producers, including dairy and beef farmers, as well as organizations seeking sustainable agricultural practices.
  • Genus plc:
    • Technology Focus: Genus plc is a leading animal genetics company that employs advanced breeding technologies, including gene editing, to improve livestock traits. They likely have initiatives focused on developing low-emission livestock through genetic selection and modification.
    • Uniqueness: Genus plc’s unique strength lies in its extensive genetic database and breeding programs, which allow for precise selection and breeding of animals with desired traits. Their integration of gene editing technologies further enhances their capabilities in this area.
    • End-User Segments: Their solutions are aimed at livestock producers worldwide, including commercial farms and breeding operations, as well as organizations involved in sustainable agriculture and food production.
  • AgResearch:
    • Technology Focus: AgResearch is a research institute focused on agricultural science and innovation. Their work likely includes research and development in gene editing technologies applied to livestock for reducing emissions and improving environmental sustainability.
    • Uniqueness: AgResearch’s uniqueness lies in its position as a research institution dedicated to agricultural innovation. They may collaborate with industry partners and government agencies to develop and validate gene editing solutions for low-emission livestock.
    • End-User Segments: While AgResearch primarily focuses on research and development, their findings and technologies are valuable for a wide range of stakeholders, including livestock producers, policymakers, and environmental organizations interested in sustainable agriculture.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  • University of California, Davis:
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at UC Davis are leveraging advanced gene editing techniques such as CRISPR-Cas9 to develop low-emission livestock breeds. They are targeting specific genes associated with methane production in the digestive systems of animals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
    • Uniqueness of Research: UC Davis’ research stands out for its focus on precision gene editing to modify livestock genetics while ensuring animal welfare and productivity. By targeting key genes involved in methane production, they aim to create sustainable livestock breeds that emit fewer greenhouse gases without compromising meat or milk production.
    • End-use Applications: The gene-edited livestock breeds developed at UC Davis have applications in the agricultural and food industries. Farmers can raise low-emission livestock to reduce their environmental footprint and comply with regulations aimed at mitigating climate change. Additionally, consumers may prefer products derived from sustainable livestock farming practices.
  • University of Edinburgh:
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at the University of Edinburgh are exploring novel gene editing techniques to modify the microbiomes of livestock animals. By manipulating microbial populations in the digestive tracts of animals, they aim to reduce methane emissions and improve nutrient utilization.
    • Uniqueness of Research: The research at the University of Edinburgh focuses on the complex interactions between host genetics and microbial communities in the gastrointestinal tract. By understanding these interactions, researchers can develop targeted interventions to modulate the microbiome and mitigate methane emissions from livestock.
    • End-use Applications: The gene editing technologies developed at the University of Edinburgh have implications for sustainable agriculture and animal husbandry. Farmers can adopt strategies to optimize the gut microbiomes of their livestock, leading to reduced methane emissions, improved animal health, and increased efficiency in feed conversion.
  • Wageningen University & Research:
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at Wageningen University & Research are investigating innovative gene editing approaches to enhance the feed efficiency and methane emissions of livestock animals. They are studying genetic variations associated with methane production and feed conversion efficiency to identify targets for genetic improvement.
    • Uniqueness of Research: Wageningen’s research combines genomic analysis, bioinformatics, and gene editing technologies to identify and manipulate genes involved in methane emissions and feed efficiency. By integrating multi-omics data, they aim to unravel the genetic basis of complex traits and accelerate breeding programs for low-emission livestock.
    • End-use Applications: The gene editing techniques developed at Wageningen have practical applications in animal breeding and livestock management. Farmers can use genomic selection and gene editing tools to breed low-emission livestock breeds that are more sustainable and economically viable. Additionally, these technologies contribute to the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and combat climate change.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Gene editing for low-emission livestock has not yet reached commercial implementation due to regulatory hurdles and public acceptance concerns surrounding genetically modified animals. However, as research progresses and societal dialogue advances, this technology has the potential to become a commercially viable solution in the future.