A team of researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev made a major breakthrough by successfully manipulating a cow’s microbiome for the first time.Microbiomes, which are essentially an aggregate of all microbes that reside on or within the body, are still scientifically unexplored, but they are known to have a significant impact on the physical systems of humans and animals. The team, led by Prof. Itzhak Mizrahi, had been running an experiment for three years with 50 cows divided into two groups. The first group saw cows give birth naturally, while the second had the cows only give birth through C-sections. The team noticed that this small difference caused the microbiomes to develop and evolve differently – as microbes are first introduced to the body at birth and soon produce a unique and evolving microbiome.These findings allowed Mizrahi’s team and University of California, Los Angeles’s Prof. Eran Halperin’s team to develop an algorithm to predict microbiome development.The implication of this research, which was published in the academic journal Nature Communications, is significant, as it could potentially allow scientists to prevent cows from emitting methane.Methane emitted by cows is one of the most serious greenhouse gasses, and has a very harmful effect on the environment.The significance of this is reflected in Mizrahi’s work, which has seen him investigate microbiomes in different species to help stem climate change, as well as prepare for a world shaped by it.“Now that we know we can influence the microbiome development, we can use this knowledge to modulate microbiome composition to lower the environmental impact of cows on our planet by guiding them to our desired outcomes,” Mizrahi said in a statement.In addition to cows, Mizrahi has also studied the microbiomes of fish, with the aim of engineering healthier fish. This is especially important, as aquaculture will become the world’s major source of seafood as the oceans empty of fish.