Latest Projects

Bison Integrated Genomics (BIG)

A Wicked Problem

Diseased bison in northern Canada, infected with bovine tuberculosis (bTB) and brucellosis along with small, geographically separated herds are two major barriers to bison conservation in Canada. Current conservation efforts by Parks Canada have been severely hampered by threats of disease spillover, genetic isolation amongst herds, and the potential for catastrophic loss among segregated herds.

These urgent problems cannot be overcome without ways of assessing genetic composition and overcoming disease. In 2020, the recovery of wood bison in Canada was designated in imminent threat if action is not taken now. The designation arose in part from a lack of tools for disease management and by the risk of disease spillover to disease-free herds. Parks Canada, along with other bison management agencies, will use genomic tools to manage these diseases and improve gene flow among herds (without the risk of introducing disease).

The overall goal of the BIG project is to ensure the existence of healthy, genetically diverse bison, and long-term sustainable genetic diversity in Canadian bison herds. The specific objectives are:

1) Develop more sensitive diagnostic assays for bison using advanced proteomic and transcriptomic tools;

2) Develop a combined Brucella and bovine tuberculosis vaccine;

3) Refine and validate genomic tools to identify the genetic composition of bison herds, and;

4) Transfer healthy germplasm between wild and genetically depauperate herds.

The project will also aim to:

i) rapidly diagnose bison who have brucellosis and bovine tuberculos (and remove them from the herd);

ii) protect disease-free bison herds at risk of transmission;

iii) evaluate subspecies distinction and freedom from domestic cattle introgression, and;

iv) produce disease-free germplasm from genetically isolated, diseased, and highly valuable herds to  increase overall genetic diversity.

A Receptor Review Committee comprised of representatives of indigenous communities, bison management agencies and industry will allow full integration of research needs with oversight and input by the end users who will be eventually adopt the genomic tools being developed.

Quick Facts

  • Project Leader(s):
    • Dr. Gregg Adams
      (University of Saskatchewan)
    • Dr. Todd K. Shury
      (Parks Canada Agency)
  • Genome Centre(s):

    Genome Prairie (lead), Genome Alberta (co-lead)

  • Project Manager:

    Dr. Gregg Adams, University of Saskatchewan

  • Receptor Project Leader:

    Dr. Todd K Shury, Parks Canada Agency

  • Project Supports:

    Dr. Muhammad Anzar, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    Dr. Gabriela Mastromonaco, Toronto Zoo
    Dr. Paul Stothard, University of Alberta

  • Project Value:

    $5.2 Million

  • Genome Canada Contribution:


  • Receptor Leader(s):

    Parks Canada Agency

  • Project Status:

    Active (2022-present)

  • Competition:

    Genome Canada 2022 Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP)

Current Projects

2022 - Present

Bison Integrated Genomics (BIG)

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CanCOGeN – Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network

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CPMN – Canadian Prairie Metabolic Network

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2020 - 2022

COV3R – COVID-19 Rapid Regional Response

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CTAG2 – Canadian Triticum Applied Genomics

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2019 to 2023

4DWheat – Diversity, Discovery, Design and Delivery

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EcoToxChip – A toxicogenomics tool for chemical prioritization and environmental management

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2019 - 2023

EVOLVES – Enhancing the Value of Lentil Variation for Ecosystem Survival

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2019 - 2022

FLOWTER – Floating Wetland Treatments to Enhance Remediation

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2019 - 2023

Genomic ASSETS (Antimicrobial Stewardship Systems from Evidence-based Treatment Strategies) for Livestock

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GENICE: Microbial Genomics for Oil Spill Preparedness in Canada’s Arctic Marine Environment

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2018 - 2021

Improving on-seed survival and performance of legume inoculants using genome shuffling

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