Business & Policy
Feds invest in genomics research
By Top Crop Manager
July 21, 2015 - The world's increasing population, the corresponding growing demand for food, and climate variability will have profound impacts on the productive capacity of both oceans and agricultural lands. The knowledge of the genomic make-up, function and interaction of plants, livestock, fish and other species, has been rising, but its application to agricultural and aquatic productivity and food safety has been largely untapped until today.
The federal government and the Chairs of Genome Canada and Western Grains Research Foundation announced a $93-million investment in 11 new genomics research projects that address challenges and opportunities for Canadian agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture.
The projects selected for funding under Genome Canada's 2014 Large-Scale Applied Research Project Competition Genomics and Feeding the Future – each valued at between $5 million to $10 million – will be led by leading academic institutions based in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec, and involve researchers from across Canada.
Canada is already a global leader in several areas of genomics as applied to agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture. The projects being announced today span an array of topics, each using genomics to achieve applied research goals including: sustaining and securing Canada's honey bees; improving disease resilience and sustainability in pork production; increasing varieties and production of lentils; and, making northern fisheries sustainable. Innovations resulting from this research are expected to drive economic benefits including exports and job creation in sectors critical to Canada's economy.
The University of Saskatchewan is receiving $8.5 million to support the Canadian Triticum Applied Genomics (CTAG2) team, led by Dr. Curtis Pozniak in collaboration with Dr. Andrew Sharpe of the National Research Council of Canada. The emphasis of CTAG2 is to conduct research to better understand the wheat genome and to apply this research to develop genetic markers and predictive genetic tests to improve selection efficiency in Canadian wheat breeding programs.
In addition to CTAG2, the University of Saskatchewan is receiving $15.5 million to help two more research teams that will develop vaccines against infectious diseases of cattle and develop lentil varieties that will excel under Canadian growing conditions. The University is also a co-lead on an Alberta-based $9.8 million project developing new tools to fight disease in pigs and improve Canada's pork industry.
Total investment in the 11 projects is $93 million, including $30.8 million in federal funding through Genome Canada, $5 million in support for three of the projects from the Western Grains Research Foundation, and $57.2 million from project co-funding partners, including provincial governments, private sector partners, non-profit organizations and others.