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sector_ico_Forestry_trans Forestry

Protecting Canada’s Forests against Invasive Alien Species by Next Generation Biosurveillance

  • Project Leaders: Richard Hamelin, Linda DeVerno, Cameron Duff, Roger Levesque, Amro Mahran
  • Institutions: University of British Columbia (UBC)
  • Budget: $2,430,000
  • Competition: Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP)
  • Genome Centre(s): Genome BC, Genome Quebec
  • Fiscal Year: 2014
  • Status: Active

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) protects Canada’s forests and agricultural resources by intercepting alien forest pests and intervening before they establish themselves. The Agency is partnering with scientists at the University of British Columbia and a network of academics from Universite Laval in Quebec and Natural Resources Canada to develop, validate and deploy genome-based biosurveillance tools aimed at two species – the Asian gypsy moth (AGM), which feeds on a wide range of economically important tree species, and Phytophthora ramorum (PR), which attacks dozens of plants and tree species including oak trees. The tools will use DNA detection arrays that target unique genome regions in the pests, improving CFIA’s ability to better detect and identify these two species. By preventing the introduction and establishment of these pests in the first place, the costs of dealing with them will be avoided, while Canada’s pest-free status, important to maintaining expert markets, will be maintained. Adoption of these tools is forecast to save an estimated $374-$625 million over three-to-five years.