Latest Projects

MGCB2 – Turning Waste into Value-Added Resources

Turning Waste into Value-Added Resources
Microbes are nature’s top recyclers. Genome Prairie researchers are leading an international collaboration exploring the ability of certain bacteria to convert waste materials such as straw, woodchips and paper into renewable biofuels and biodegradable plastics. This research is developing new solutions that will help overcome society’s reliance on traditional fuels while minimizing the need for waste landfills.

The Microbial Genomics for Biofuels and Co-Products from Biorefining Processes (MGCB2) project involves studying the bacterial metabolism and gene structure and function involved in the conversion of waste materials and cellulose to usable products.

The project’s goal is to select and design populations of bacteria with enhanced biosynthetic ability and to enable biorefineries that generate products such as ethanol, hydrogen and components of biodegradable plastics from agricultural and industrial waste.

Research ResultsResearch Results
Together with partners in the United States and New Zealand, MGCB2 researchers have identified and patented several novel bacteria that could be used to create consortia with enhanced abilities to convert waste into energy and fuels. Many of these bacteria are thermophiles that live in extreme conditions such as hot springs and thermal vents, and could have important properties for remediation. The genetic content of those microbes was studied by using genomic sequencing. Subsequent studies and analyses have been conducted to relate gene sequence to protein expression in an effort to gain a better understanding of the utility of particular microbes in the treatment and fermentation of different waste products.

Watch a video with Project Leaders, Dr. David Levin and Dr. Richard Sparling – From the Life Science Association of Manitoba.

Notable OutcomesNotable Outcomes
Determined key enzymes for the synthesis of hydrogen and ethanol in 29 sequenced bacteria with biofuels potential.
Isolated eight novel bioplastic-synthesizing bacteria, with provisional patent applications submitted for three strains.
Achieved the production of acceptable amounts of ethanol and hydrogen through successful co-culture of designer bacterial consortia at the bench level.
An evaluation of the Food versus Fuel survey was undertaken to examine economic, legal and environmental issues surrounding biofuels and barriers to industry.

Quick Facts

  • Project Leader(s):
    • David Levin
      (University of Manitoba)
    • Richard Sparling
      (University of Manitoba)
  • Project Manager:

    Sherif Louis Genome Prairie

  • Project Value:

    $10.6 Million

  • Genome Canada Contribution:

    $4.9 Million

  • Other Funding Partners:

    $2.7 Million

  • Provincial Funding (MB):

    $2.2 Million

  • Provincial Funding (SK):


  • Project Status:


  • Competition:

    Genome Canada Applied Genomics Research in Bioproducts or Crops (2008–09)

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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