Canada Funds Genomics Research to Help Detect Ag Pests, Diseases

CANADA - Canada has announced $30 million of funding over six years to support advanced research in agricultural genomics to mitigate biological threats to agriculture.
calendar icon 13 April 2016
clock icon 2 minute read

Genomics is the science that studies DNA sequences and the complexity of their multiple interactions.

Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, said: "Our government believes in science and in investments in scientific research.

"Budget 2016's multi-year investment in the cutting-edge field of genomics demonstrates our commitment to scientifically informed decision-making and to fundamental research to support innovation in the agriculture and agri-food sector."

In order to help detect, assess, understand and prevent biological threats to agriculture and international trade, scientists need access to reference collections, including very high resolution images and detailed 'DNA fingerprints', of known specimens.

AAFC currently provides over 10,000 identifications and responds to over 1,000 requests for assistance in identification annually.

The funding will allow AAFC scientists to build on this important work by enabling them to 'DNA fingerprint' and digitise specimens of pests, weeds, and diseases from AAFC's current physical collections, containing over 17 million physical specimens of insects, plants, fungi, bacteria and nematodes, and create reference collections that will be used to identify high-risk organisms.

This will enhance Canadian capacity for science-based decision making to improve agricultural production and international trade, as well as safeguard agricultural biodiversity through better pest and disease management.

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