Genome Prairie projects attract $ 1.7 M in provincial funding

University of Manitoba leads Canadian flax and biofuels genomic research

WINNIPEG, Oct. 5 /CNW/ - The future of flax and biofuels research has never been brighter in Manitoba. With the Province of Manitoba's $375,000 investment in Genome Prairie's Total Utilization of Flax Genomics (TUFGEN) and the $1.3 million investment in the Microbial Genomics for Biofuels and Co-Products from Biorefining Processes (MGB2), Manitoba is set to lead Canadian genomics research in flax and biofuels.

"Manitoba's contribution to these projects underlines its commitment to having our province emerge as a leader in alternative energy and agriculture research," said Jim Rondeau, Manitoba Minister of Science, Technology, Energy, and Mines (STEM). "The diversity of agriculture research development presently underway in Manitoba reflects the increasing complexity of the industry."

Most of the research for the MCGB2 project is based in Winnipeg at the University of Manitoba. Drs. Richard Sparling and David Levin at the U of M are lead researchers for the project. Other researchers involved are Drs. Wilkins, Fristensky and Krokhin. The project also involves researchers in microbiology, biochemistry, genomics, bioinformatics, proteomics, and engineering from across Canada, the United States, and New Zealand. The International Institute For Sustainable Development in Winnipeg is also a funding partner for the project.

"The University of Manitoba is pleased to lead these Genome Prairie projects," said Dr. Digvir Jayas, Vice President (Research) at the University of Manitoba. "By using agricultural feedstocks as a source of alternative energy, we can reduce product waste and maximize uses for plants. The flax research project's goal to develop flax as a dualpurpose crop and to sequence the flax genome, is an invaluable contribution to flax research."

Dr. Sylvie Cloutier from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), and an adjunct professor at the U of M, co-leads the TUFGEN project which aims to increase the value of flax for producers. Manitoba based research for this project takes place at the Manitoba AAFC facility and involves Dr Scott Duguid. Province of Saskatchewan funding for TUGEN will be announced later this month.

"Genomics research is becoming more and more important in the areas of energy and agriculture research. We are pleased to receive the Province's support for these projects which have the potential to help transform the biofuels and flax industries," commented Dr. Wilf Keller, President and CEO of Genome Prairie.

Both Genome Prairie projects are supported by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture. Saskatchewan Government funding will be announced on October 23, 2009 in Saskatoon.

Genome Prairie is a not-for-profit corporation leading large-scale genomics and proteomics research projects in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. With its national and international partners, Genome Prairie has supported nearly $188 million of research activity in plant, animal and human genomics, bioinformatics, instrumentation development and bioethics since 2000.

Through network establishment and regional priority consultations, Genome Prairie facilitates research linkages with funding from provincial governments, industry and Genome Canada which implements a national strategy in genomics and proteomics research to benefit all Canadians. www.genomeprairie.ca

For further information: Carol Reynolds, Director, Corporate Development and Communications, Genome Prairie, Tel: (306) 668-3574, Cell: (306) 241-9033, E-mail: creynolds@genomeprairie.ca