Genomics for a Greener World

    CALGARY and ATLANTA, May 21 /CNW/ - With the Alberta Government's May
20th announcement of its contribution towards 2 new genomics projects, Genome
Alberta has completed the a public-private funding package and is pleased to
announce these new and very special projects that will play a leading role in
genomic research.

    Helping Energy Extraction Become a Little Bit Greener:

    Deep inside the world's hydrocarbon deposits are naturally occurring
microbes that have been hard at work for untold years. These microbes have the
potential to make it easier and more efficient to pull oil out of conventional
wells, remove the bitumen from the oil sands, and clean up tailings ponds. A
team led by Dr. Gerrit Voordouw of the University of Calgary now has a total
of 11.6 million dollars to work on the project which will sample and explore
the biological processes at work in oil wells, oils sands, tailings ponds, and
coal beds. At the core of this project is the analysis of the sequencing data
with the goal of understanding and exploiting the biological processes at work
in hydrocarbon reserves. The project hopes to decrease water use, lower the
emission of greenhouse gases, and enhance the extraction of clean burning
natural gas from coal beds.

    Green and Natural Plant Factories:

    "Plants are the world's best chemists. They can synthesize an immense
diversity of molecules. We're going to identify the genes from more than 75
plants that make those plants produce valuable compounds." says Dr. Peter
Facchini of the University of Calgary. He along with Project Co-leader Dr.
Vince Martin from Concordia University has assembled a team of plant
biochemists, metabolic modelers, bioinformaticians, and synthetic biologists
to harness the potential of plants with high medicinal and industrial value.
The initiative will discover plant genes that can be sequenced and used in
yeast to produce industrial-scale volumes of biologically derived chemicals
including pharmaceuticals, food products, and insecticides. Dubbed
PhytoMetaSyn, the project is worth 13.6 million dollars and will use
state-of-the-art metabolomic, genomic, and bioinformatic technologies over the
next 4 years to develop the science and commercial potential of synthetic
plant biology.

    A Funding Leader:

    Genome Alberta is excited to have put together 2 such outstanding
projects which cross over disciplines and borders. With partners,
participants, and supporters from across Canada and into the United States
these projects will enhance Genome Alberta's role as an organization which can
initiate, fund, and manage large scale genomics projects. Doctors Facchini,
Martin, and Voordouw are leaders in their respective fields and Genome Alberta
is looking forward to working with them over the next few years.


    -  Genome Alberta made the announcement from the world's largest
       biotechnology convention, BIO2009, being held in Atlanta, Georgia.

    -  Genome Alberta is a not-for-profit organization based in Calgary which
       initiates, funds, and manages large-scale projects in genomics and
       other related 'omic' areas.

    -  Genome Alberta is one of 6 similar Genome Centres across Canada funded
       in part by Industry Canada through Genome Canada.

    -  These 2 projects are worth a total of 25.2 million dollars over
       approximately 4 years.

    -  Genome Alberta was officially launched in 2006 and since then has
       invested approximately 17 million dollars in salaries and benefits and
       7 million dollars in consumables and equipment.

    -  A more complete description of the projects can be found at


    -  Major funding for the projects has come from Industry Canada through
       Genome Canada and the Government of Alberta through Alberta Advanced
       Education and Technology.

    -  These projects were reviewed by an International Science Panel and
       Genome Alberta's future role will include monitoring the project
       finances, milestones and reviewing the science.

    -  The official titles for the projects are:

       -  Metagenomics for Greener Production and Extraction of Hydrocarbon
       -  Synthetic Biosystems for the Production of High-Value Plant

    -  Genome Alberta also runs the popular 'Genomics' application on
       Facebook, maintains a blog, and can be found on Twitter as

For further information:

For further information: To arrange an interview in person or by phone
with any of the project leaders, or with Dr. Gijs van Rooijen the Chief
Scientific Officer with Genome Alberta, please contact: Mike Spear, Director
of Corporate Communications, Genome Alberta, No.115, 3553-31st St. N.W.,
Calgary, AB, T2L 2K7, ph: (403) 503-5222, cell: (403) 813-5843,

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