Latest Projects

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

Reduced sea ice cover and ice-free summers have led to increases of 166% in shipping through the Northwest Passage since 2004. For example, cruise ship tourism in the Arctic has grown by 500% in the past 5 years. The US-based Crystal Cruises just announced that its mammoth Crystal Serenity cruise ship will make its first ever voyage through the Northwest Passage in August 2016, carrying about 1,000 passengers and over 600 crew – the first ever attempt of this kind. Increased activity brings increased risks of accidental releases of diesel or bunker fuel and other transportation related contaminants. Climate change has also focused attention on Arctic oil exploration and attendant fears of an oil spill in the Arctic Ocean. Significant oil reserves are estimated to exist in the Arctic, yet recent decisions by major oil producers including Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron signal that drilling in the Canadian Arctic is at least a decade away. This “hiatus” in offshore petroleum exploration and production in the Canadian Arctic offers scientists an important window of opportunity to develop emergency preparedness plans, and this window of opportunity must not be squandered.

The GENICE project will use microbial genomics to generate credible, science-based knowledge on the role and potential of bioremediation – the biodegradation of oil by naturally occurring microorganisms. Marine microbial communities are likely nature’s ‘first responders’ in the event of a marine oil spill, yet little is known about this potential mitigation approach in the cold iceladen Arctic marine environment. Integrating scientific outcomes with GE3LS, the project will achieve key deliverables of (1) new baselines using microbial genomics, (2) bioremediation viability case studies and demonstrations for Arctic marine habitats, and (3) a new approach to dynamic mapping of risks and mitigation potential using microbial genomic biomarkers. These outcomes will interface with the complex milieu of economic policy development and learning around emergency preparedness and oil spill response in Canada’s Arctic waters. Ongoing engagement and interactive exchange of knowledge between scientists and different end-user groups will include residents of potentially affected northern communities, different levels of government including regulatory agencies, non-governmental and Indigenous organizations, and the private sector. As a result, an additional key deliverable of GENICE will be (4) a Best Practices document for end users concerning bioremediation of oil spills in the Arctic that will be produced and available to Canadians at the end of the project.

Quick Facts

  • Project Leader(s):
    • Gary Stern
      (University of Manitoba)
    • Casey Hubert
      (University of Calgary)
  • Co-Lead Centres:
    • Genome Alberta
      (Lead)
    • Genome Prairie
  • Project Value:

    $10.7 Million

  • Funding Partners Contribution:

    Total: $7.4 Million

  • Genome Canada Contribution:

    $3.3 Million

  • Project Status:

    Ongoing (2016-2022)

  • Competition:

    Genome Canada 2014 Large Scale Applied Research Project Competition

Current Projects

2022 - Present

Bison Integrated Genomics (BIG)

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2016-2022

CanCOGeN – Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network

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2021-2024

CPMN – Canadian Prairie Metabolic Network

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2020 - 2022

COV3R – COVID-19 Rapid Regional Response

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2015-2021

CTAG2 – Canadian Triticum Applied Genomics

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2019 to 2023

4DWheat – Diversity, Discovery, Design and Delivery

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2016-2021

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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2016-2022

GENICE II

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2019 - 2023

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

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2016-2022

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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