Food In Canada


Genome Alberta funds research

Nine genomics research projects to improve quality and health of livestock will be underway thanks to $4.5 million in funding

Calgary, Alta. – Two scientists have been given the go ahead for their project to research a microorganism carried in cattle, which can result in human disease.

This project is just one of nine approved for funding under Genome Alberta’s Alberta Livestock Genomics Program (ALGP).

Genome Alberta, the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA) and the University of Lethbridge made the announcement this month.

With $4.5 million in funding, ALMA put out a call for proposals in 2010 and approved nine projects. The proposals had to include projects that help improve the quality, reputation and health of Alberta livestock.

The microorganism project is the first one to be announced and will receive $470,000 in funding. University of Lethbridge researcher Dr. Brent Selinger and Dr. Tim McAllister of Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada’s Lethbridge Research Centre will lead and co-lead the project. IdentiGen Canada Ltd. and the University College Cork in Ireland are also part of the team.

Selinger and McAllister explain that Escherichia coli O157:H7 is often found in the gut of even healthy cattle but when it reaches high enough levels for the cattle to become “super shedders” it can spread and can become a problem for people.

The newly funded project – called The use of metagenomics to develop mitigation strategies for Escherichia coli O157:H7 colonization in cattle – will use functional genomics to identify and develop new bioactive compounds for the control of the pathogen and to find new strategies to mitigate the shedding of E. Coli O157:H7.

Work on the project, which is being lead by the University of Lethbridge, is underway and over the next several weeks funding details for the other eight research projects will also be underway.

“In addition to the strong funding commitment from ALMA, the national and international organizations partnering in the various projects will bring the total research envelope into the $8 to $9 million dollar range,” says Dr. David Bailey, Genome Alberta’s president and CEO.

Over the coming weeks Genome Alberta and its partners will be announcing details of other projects involving other Alberta, Canadian, and U.S. universities, industry, and U.S-based agencies.