Dr. Brent Selinger
Dr. Brent Selinger is one of Alberta's current
innovators. Holding multiple patents, he is based out of Lethbridge.
A desire to protect Albertas waterways from
phosphorous pollution is the impetus for Dr. Brent Selingers latest
research. Selinger, a professor of biology at the University of Lethbridge and one of the scientists involved in the Water Institute for
Semi-Arid Ecosystems (WISE) is a life-long innovator, holding nine
Currently, Selinger is looking at a micro-biological
approach to prevent phosphorous run-off from livestock operations from
polluting Albertas lakes and rivers.
Chickens and pigs are
mono-gastric animals, their digestive tracts much simpler than ruminants,
such as cattle, deer, bison, etc., and their systems lack phytases, the
enzymes necessary to digest the most prevalent form of phosphorous found
in grain. Since their feed consists primarily of grain and they
have no way of breaking down the phosphorous it contains, a significant
amount of phosphorous is returned to the environment through manure. When
it rains, the phosphorous often runs off into the nearest body of water,
thus upsetting that areas phosphorous balance.
Maybe livestock operators should spread less manure?
Selinger agrees that would solve the phosphorous problem, but in turn
create another. It is simply not economically viable for intensive
livestock operators to transport their manure for long distances. Selinger offers an alternative. By studying the organisms that allow the
digestion of phosphorous in ruminant animals, he intends to isolate the
chemical components necessary to allow the mono-gastric animals to access the phosphorous.
In doing so, Selinger will be able to add these components to their feed,
allowing them to break down the phosphorous before it has a chance to
reach the environment.
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