Elizabeth Edwards and Radhakrishnan Mahadevan of the University of Toronto are developing computational models using microbial genomes and metagenomes to uncover metabolic interactions in complex anaerobic microbial communities. They will identify and validate metabolic gaps pointing to metabolites exchanged among an anaerobic subsurface mixed microbial community that contains microbes used for bioremediation of toxic chlorinated solvents. This project aims to boost the efficiency of dechlorination in groundwater remediation, and resolve metabolic gaps in genome-scale models at the microbial community level.
Drs. David Edgell and Gregory Gloor of the University of Western Ontario are working to develop and test a CRISPR/Cas9 conjugative plasmid system to enable precise user-defined manipulation of the composition of microbial communities. This novel microbial control system aims to enable the selective elimination of individual bacteria from a mixed population. If successful, the microbial control system has broad-ranging applications in basic biomedical research, industrial food-related process, and human health, bringing the scientific community one step further in the quest to harness the power of microorganisms to overcome humanity’s challenges.
Michelle Science of SickKids is collaborating with Bryan Coburn of the University Health Network to investigate the impact of antibiotic treatment on the developing microbiome of infants in Neonatal Intensive Care Units. They aim to identify how the microbiome is affected, and establish whether these changes are associated with short-term or long-term consequences. Their findings will guide decision-making and prescribing practices for infants and neonates in health care facilities, with the ultimate goal of improving patient outcomes.
Manish N. Raizada of the University of Guelph is working to discover probiotic microbes inhabiting the hollow channels of Ontario corn silks. This investigation of the pollen tube microbiome aims to lead to the identification of probiotics which can be applied to silks to combat crop diseases afflicting grain. This has the potential to decrease the requirement for and reliance on pesticides, resulting in more sustainable and effective industry practices – with exciting implications for Ontario corn farmers, grain processors, and local consumers.
On June 11, 2015 Genome Canada launched a Request for Applications (RFA) seeking proposals for research projects with the potential to advance the field of genomics and eventually lead to social and/or economic benefits to Canada – that is, projects which focus on Disruptive Innovations in Genomics (DIG).
In a world that is requiring increasingly biological-based solutions to meet the growing need for materials, tree biomass remains one of the most abundant resources on earth. Drs. Emma Master of the University of Toronto and Harry Brumer of UBC are leading a team recently awarded $9.5 million to focus on upgrading key biopolymers from trees using enzymes, to create materials that provide higher value than what otherwise might be realized. The project will harness the genetic potential of microorganisms to identify and develop new biocatalysts for this purpose. The high-value products to target, identified by end users and stakeholders, include resins, coatings, bioplastics and adhesives.
On December 8, 2016, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, announced the $110 million investment in the 2015 Large-Scale Applied Research Project Competition ‘Natural Resources and the Environment: Sector Challenges – Genomic Solutions.’ The 13 projects approved for funding use genomics to address the important challenges and opportunities facing Canada’s natural resources and environment…
Dr. Stagljar and his team at the University of Toronto are using a Disruptive Innovations in Genomics (DIG) award to further develop their powerful Mammalian Membrane Two-Hybrid (MaMTH) technology, to map protein-to-protein interactions (PPIs) of integral membrane proteins directly in the natural context of the cell on a large scale. This technology will be the foundation for an Ontario-based company called Protein Network Sciences that will offer easy access to this novel disruptive MaMTH technology, advancing biomedical research and therapeutic discovery while benefiting Canadian social and economic infrastructure.
Proteins in cells are responsible for virtually every biological process. When they don’t work properly, the result can be human diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and heart disease. Dr. Andrew Emili of the University of Toronto is developing proprietary chemical probes and tool “kits” applicable to diverse biomedical specimens that will allow researchers to identify and quantify each and every one of the many millions of different protein molecules present in human cells and tissues at an unprecedented level of detail. This work will displace existing technologies and change the study of human cell biology and medicine.
RNAseq may provide a strategy for discovering novel genetic mutations that cause rare diseases – but can’t be used without obtaining the specific tissues in which the disease is present. Drs. Dowling and Brudno of The Hospital for Sick Children will use ex vivo disease models in place of tissue biopsies to perform RNAseq for gene mutation discovery. By combining recent advances in cell biology, genomics and bioinformatics, the lab will develop a new diagnostic methodology, fundamentally transforming the clinical diagnostics process.