Ontario Strengthening Agricultural And Environmental Research

    McGuinty Government Boosts Plant Genomics Research In Guelph

    GUELPH, ON, May 15 /CNW/ -


    Ontario is strengthening its status as a hotbed for world-leading
genomics research by supporting scientists in Guelph who are leading the way
with ground-breaking discoveries in agriculture and environmental protection.
    The province is investing $3.2 million to support two projects at the
University of Guelph. The funding comes through the third round of the Ontario
Research Fund - Research Excellence program, and supports the following

    -  Dr. Steven Rothstein
       (http://www.uoguelph.ca/mcb/faculty/faculty_rothstein.shtml) will
       receive close to $2.8 million to discover greener ways to grow corn in
       Ontario - an industry worth almost $1 billion a year - by using less
       fertilizers and water to produce better corn yields.

    -  Dr. Paul Hebert (http://www.uoguelph.ca/~phebert/) will receive
       $400,000 to undertake new research on the International Barcode of
       Life (http://www.barcodinglife.org/views/login.php) project, which is
       enabling the use of next-generation DNA sequencing equipment to survey
       and help protect bio-diversity around the world. Including today's
       investment, the province has provided over $1.5 million to support Dr.
       Hebert's work.

    This funding comes on the heels of last week's launch of Ontario's new
$100-million competition for genomics and gene-related research. Today's
announcement and the new competition support Ontario's Innovation Agenda
(http://www.mri.gov.on.ca/english/programs/oia/program.asp), a $3.2 billion
plan to make Ontario one of the best places in the world to turn world-class
research into world-class jobs.


    "We're proud of the work that our scientists do, and the wealth and jobs
that they create in Guelph and communities across Ontario. Corn is one of the
world's most important food crops and it holds tremendous potential for a new
green economy based on renewable corn-based biofuels and industrial polymers.
By learning more about corn genes, Dr. Rothstein and his team at the
University of Guelph are determined to make major strides in helping farmers
grow corn in more cost-effective and sustainable ways."
    - Guelph-Wellington MPP Liz Sandals (http://www.lizsandals.onmpp.ca/).

    "The McGuinty government is committed to growing an innovation economy
that supports the groundbreaking work of our leading scientists and their
teams. New discoveries and breakthroughs will continue to be made - and we
want those innovative people, innovative ideas, and forward-looking jobs right
here in Ontario."
    - Minister of Research and Innovation John Wilkinson

    "DNA barcoding is already an effective tool, but by engaging hundreds of
researchers across the globe and cross referencing data of species in the same
ecosystems, we will gather the vital information needed to guide national
mandates for conservation, safety and surveillance."
    - Dr. Paul Hebert (http://www.uoguelph.ca/~phebert/), Scientific Director
of the International Barcode of Life (iBOL) project.


    -  Ontario currently has the most highly skilled workforce in the G7.

    -  Between 2005 and 2008, provincial investments in research and
       innovation leveraged $1.1 billion while helping to advance the
       knowledge, skills and training of close to 30,000 individuals.

    -  The new announced $100-million Global Leadership Round in Genomics and
       Life Sciences will support globally-significant, collaborative
       research projects that are headquartered in Ontario.


    Learn more about corn genomics research
(http://www.uoguelph.ca/mcb/faculty/faculty_rothstein.shtml#research) at the
University of Guelph.
    Find out more about Dr. Paul Hebert and the International Barcode of Life
    Find out more about Ontario's Innovation Agenda

                                                      Disponible en français



    University of Guelph

    Understanding Maize Genomics to Achieve Agricultural Sustainability
    Lead Researcher: Dr. Steven Rothstein
    Provincial Funding: $2,792,542
    Number of Researchers Affected: 10

    Increasing demand for food in developing nations like China and India,
diminishing supplies and rising costs of fossil fuel energy, and global
climate change are putting unprecedented stress on agricultural productivity.
Corn is a major crop in Ontario, worth over $1 billion to the economy
annually. The University of Guelph's research, with its industrial partner
Syngenta, will focus on maize plants' ability to use nitrogen-based
fertilizers more effectively and use water under stress conditions. Since
nitrogen-based fertilizers are a major pollution source, reducing their use
will lessen environmental impacts. The research will identify genes that
control plant growth and alter their activity to specifically target traits to
improve the plant. Genomic information gained from studying maize can be
transferred to other important grain crops, such as barley, rice and wheat.

    Key Private sector Partners:

    Environmental Barcoding through Massively Parallelized Sequencing
    Lead Researcher: Paul Hebert
    Provincial Funding: $400,000
    Number of Researchers Affected: 5

    The assignment of a DNA barcode involves the analysis of variations in
the sequence of a select region of a particular gene, mitochondrial cytochrome
c oxidase I (COI) in each species. Using these DNA barcodes, it will be
possible to identify any organism, be it juvenile or adult, male or female,
large or small, from only a tiny piece of tissue. All DNA barcodes are stored
in the Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD), which is used by all international
barcode campaigns in the Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL). The
Canadian group, led by Dr. Paul Hebert and funded through a Genome Canada
Competition III project, are leaders in this field and have contributed many
of the records in BOLD. This technology development project, the first
application of the information contained in BOLD, will expand the current
protocol from single sample analysis and develop new informatics tools to
enable the analysis of mixed biotic samples, allowing 'environmental
barcoding' and biodiversity monitoring of any environmental sample.

                                                      Disponible en français

For further information:

For further information: Sandra Watts, Minister's Office, (416)
314-7067; Perry Blocher, MRI Communications Branch, (416) 326-7717

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