Conversion of Escherichia coli to Oxidize Methane for Reduction of Bovine Methane Pollution in Agriculture; Battle of the Bovines: Cattle, Colonialism, and the Conquest of the Bison

Author: ORCID icon
Davis, Caroline, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Prpich, George, EN-Chem Engr Dept, University of Virginia
Earle, Joshua, STS Dept, University of Virginia

Livestock production accounts for 14.2% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Specifically, dairy cattle and other ruminates contribute 4% percent and meat cattle contribute an additional 2% in the US, primarily through rumination. In rumination, methanogenic microbes in the rumen ferment feedstuff, producing methane. We propose an experimental approach to modify Escherichia coli (E. coli), a harmless rumen bacteria, to consume methane. We encapsulated three gene encoding for the methane-oxidizing protein, particulate methane monooxygenase (pMMO), from Methylococcus capsulatus in plasmid vectors and transformed BL21 E. coli. Results show normal growth kinetics of modified E. coli. Further results show no decrease in methane concentration from E. coli uptake in methane-rich conditions. Future work can implement pMMO-encoding genes in competent E. coli with 3 different antibiotic-targeted vectors to improve vector uptake.

In further discussions on the adverse effects of bovine production, I examine the historical and present consequences of colonization of North America, henceforth defined as Turtle Island with respect to one of many Indigenous terms to describe the continent, in a Science, Technology, and Society (STS) paper. In particular, I examine the introduction of European cattle to the Turtle Island bison populations. I argue that European colonization utilized cattle and bison as technologies against the Indigenous Nations, as I chose to define technology as the use of resources for anthropogenic change in the context of the paper. After examining the historical context of European colonization with a lens on bison and cattle dynamics, I illustrate the historical and present consequences of colonization, bison population decline, and cattle population increase. I utilize the Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) framework to analyze how European colonizers advantaged both cattle and bison to induce societal changes from an Indigenous landscape to present-day American society. Further, I discuss present and future implications for Indigenous sovereignty with respect to bison conservation.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Escherichia coli (E. coli), particulate methane monooxygenase (pMMO), Turtle Island (North America), Social Construction of Technology (SCOT)
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