Ontario Genomics is pleased to announce its investment in Ardra Inc. via its Pre-Commercial Business Development Fund. Ardra is a specialty chemicals company focused on the production of natural ingredients for the cosmetics and flavour and fragrance industries. Their synthetic biology platform uses designer biochemical pathways to produce a large portfolio of high-value products. Ardra’s development pipeline…
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.
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.
The use of plastics is widespread in society. However, the detrimental environmental consequences of plastic pollution have raised the need for alternatives. Trevor Charles of the University of Waterloo is leading a project supported by Ontario Genomics’ SPARK program that will focus on using bacterial genomics and synthetic biology approaches to create bioplastics. This work, using waste methane as feedstock, could lead to the production of valuable renewable materials from a potent greenhouse gas that is a key waste product of landfills and wastewater treatment systems.
Today’s global economy is based upon the production of fossil fuels. But increasingly, as we grapple with the depth of the environmental footprint that the production and use of those fuels leaves, we are searching for sustainable alternatives. Drs. Elizabeth Edwards and David Major are applying basic research knowledge and skills to develop microbial-based processes to transform, reuse, recycle and remediate contaminants and byproducts from common industrial and agricultural processes. Their goal is to lower barriers to entry by generating a comprehensive plan for introducing new bioproducts, and to contribute to the sustainability of the biorefineries of the future.
Genomics holds the promise to revolutionize Canada’s bioproducts sector by its ability to directly impact the three areas presenting the biggest challenges in advancing bioproducts value chains: Feedstock Optimization; Microorganisms for Sustainable Processing Technologies; and Value Added-Bioproducts. This position paper, prepared by the Biofuels and Bioproducts Genomics Working Group, calls for the adoption of the strategic research theme ”Securing Canadas Future Bio-based Economy through Genomics” as a priority and major focus for Genome Canada.