$3.8 million project puts NB company at forefront of oyster breeding technology

Baby oysters – Photo Credit ERB

Please note: French Version follows

Halifax, NS – The oyster industry in Eastern Canada is expanding rapidly, registering revenues near $31 million in 2017, a 25% increase from 2016.  However, this growth cannot be sustained by relying solely on wild-caught oyster spat.  L’Étang Ruisseau Bar Ltée (ERB), the main oyster hatchery seed supplier located in Shippagan, New Brunswick is teaming up with Université Laval scientists, Genome Atlantic and Génome Québec on a transformative, $3.8 million project using genomics to produce the first selectively bred Canadian strain of Eastern oyster. 

Genomics for Developing the first Canadian production ready strain of selectively bred Eastern Oyster is one of 20 Genome Canada funding projects announced today by the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport. The project is led by Dr. Louis Bernatchez of Université Laval and Dr. André Mallet of ERB, Eastern Canada’s largest oyster seed producer.

The project will use genomic tools like high-density SNP chips to create a breeding program that will select for traits such as improved growth, better flesh quality and resistance to disease -traits that are difficult to improve using wild stocks and conventional methods. The end goal is to increase the profitability of oyster farms.

“Genomic tools offer the potential to greatly improve selective breeding of molluscs but unfortunately, the availability of genomic tools to enhance aquaculture production of the Eastern oyster has been lagging behind, compared to other oysters,” said Dr. Louis Bernatchez, Université Laval. “This project, involving the collaboration of Université Laval and University of Chile, will allow our partners from ERB to substantially accelerate progress toward developing the first Canadian domesticated strain of eastern oyster with improved performance in growth and survival.”

‘’L’Étang Ruisseau Bar Ltd looks forward to collaborating with our partners in developing genomic selection tools for the Eastern oyster,” said Dr. André Mallet.  “By combining our expertise in oyster genetics and hatchery operation with our partners’ extensive experience in genomics, we will be able to produce high performance seed which will improve farm profitability and help us respond to a changing environment. This project will make a significant contribution towards ensuring the future of the Atlantic Canadian oyster industry, and we wish to thank the many funding partners that have made this project possible. ‘’

“This ambitious project has the potential to accelerate the growth and profitability trajectories of the oyster industry, an opportunity that is both exciting and timely given the growing global market demand for this delicious product”, says Steve Armstrong, President and CEO of Genome Atlantic.  “We extend our congratulations to this talented project team and our sincere thanks to the many funding partners.”

The project is enabled through Genome Canada’s Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP) with additional funding provided by L’Étang Ruisseau Bar Ltée; ministère de l’Économie et de l’innovation du Québec; Atlantic Fisheries Fund; University of Chile; and Mitacs Canada. The project will be managed by Genome Atlantic in partnership with Génome Québec.

Genome Atlantic is a not-for-profit corporation with a mission to help Atlantic Canada reap the economic and social benefits of genomics technologies.  Since its inception in 2000, the corporation has worked with a range of private and public-sector partners to enable more than $100 million in new genomics R&D.

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Contact:  Charmaine Gaudet, Director of External Relations, 902-488-7837 / cgaudet@genomeatlantic.ca

POUR DIFFUSION IMMÉDIATE – 23 JUILLET 2019

Un projet de 3,8 millions de dollars place une entreprise du Nouveau-Brunswick à l’avant-garde de la technologie ostréicole

Halifax (Nouvelle-Écosse) – L’industrie ostréicole dans l’Est du Canada croît rapidement, récoltant des revenus de près de 31 millions de dollars en 2017, une hausse de 25 % par rapport à 2016. Toutefois, cette croissance ne peut être assurée en se reposant uniquement sur les naissains d’huîtres sauvages. L’Étang Ruisseau Bar Ltée (ERB), le plus important fournisseur de naissains d’huîtres en écloserie, situé à Shippagan au Nouveau-Brunswick s’associe aux scientifiques de l’Université Laval, à Génome Atlantique et à Génome Québec pour la réalisation d’un projet transformateur de 3,8 millions de dollars, utilisant la génomique dans le développement de la première souche canadienne d’huîtres de l’est reproduite de façon sélective.

La génomique dans le développement de la première souche canadienne d’huîtres de l’est reproduite de façon sélective et prête à la production constitue l’un des 20 projets de financement de Génome Canada, a annoncé aujourd’hui la ministre des Sciences et des Sports, Kirsty Duncan. Le projet est dirigé par Louis Bernatchez de l’Université Laval et André Mallet d’ERB, le plus important fournisseur de naissains d’huîtres de l’est du Canada.

Le projet développera et utilisera des outils génomiques, notamment les puces SNP à haute densité pour créer un programme de sélection basée sur la génomique tel que l’amélioration de la croissance, une meilleure qualité de la chair et la résistance aux maladies, caractéristiques qui sont difficiles à améliorer en utilisant les stocks sauvages et les méthodes conventionnelles. L’objectif final est d’accroître la rentabilité des fermes ostréicoles.

«Les outils génomiques offrent la possibilité d’améliorer grandement l’élevage sélectif de mollusques mais malheureusement, la disponibilité des outils génomiques pour améliorer la production aquacole des huîtres de l’est affiche un net retard par rapport à celle des autres huîtres,» affirme Louis Bernatchez de l’Université Laval. «Ce projet, impliquant la collaboration de l’Université Laval et de l’Université du Chili, permettra à nos partenaires d’ERB d’accélérer considérablement le développement de la première souche domestique d’huîtres de l’est en améliorant les performances de croissance et de survie.»

«L’Étang Ruisseau Bar Ltée se réjouit à la perspective de collaborer avec nos partenaires afin d’élaborer des outils de sélection génomique pour l’huître de l’est,» a déclaré André Mallet. «En combinant notre expertise en génétique de l’huître et d’exploitation d’écloserie avec la vaste expérience de nos partenaires dans le domaine de la génomique, nous serons en mesure de produire des naissains de haut rendement, ce qui permettra d’améliorer la rentabilité des fermes ostréicoles et nous aidera à répondre à l’évolution constante de l’environnement. Ce projet permettra d’apporter une contribution importante en vue d’assurer l’avenir de l’industrie ostréicole du Canada atlantique, et nous tenons à remercier les nombreux partenaires financiers qui ont rendu ce projet possible.»

«Ce projet ambitieux a le potentiel d’accélérer la trajectoire de la croissance et de la rentabilité de l’industrie ostréicole, une occasion qui est à la fois passionnante et opportune étant donné la croissance de la demande sur le marché mondial pour ce délicieux produit,», explique Steve Armstrong, président-directeur général de Génome Atlantique. «Nous adressons nos félicitations à cette talentueuse équipe de projet et nos sincères remerciements aux nombreux partenaires financiers.»

Le projet est rendu possible par l’entremise du Programme de partenariats pour les applications de la génomique (PPAG) de Génome Canada, et des fonds supplémentaires provenant de L’Étang Ruisseau Bar Ltée, du ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation du Québec, du Fonds des pêches de l’Atlantique, de l’Université du Chili et de Mitacs Canada. Le projet sera géré par Génome Atlantique en partenariat avec Génome Québec.

Génome Atlantique est une société sans but lucratif qui a pour mission d’aider le Canada atlantique à profiter des avantages économiques et sociaux des technologies de la génomique. Depuis sa création en 2000, la société a travaillé avec un éventail de partenaires des secteurs privé et public afin de permettre l’investissement de plus de 100 millions de dollars en recherche et développement dans le domaine de la génomique.

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Personne-ressource: Charmaine Gaudet, Directrice des relations extérieures, 902-488-7837 / cgaudet@genomeatlantic.ca

‘Omics project takes de-risking NS’s offshore to next phase

Adam MacDonald, NS Department of Energy & Mines, examines a core sample taken during an offshore coring cruise

For Immediate Release – July 24, 2019

Halifax, NS – A major new initiative that adds genomics technologies to traditional geoscience aims to reduce the risk for oil exploration in Nova Scotia’s offshore. 

The $6.5 million project, Validation and Integration of Genomics Solutions for Offshore Oil Exploration in Nova Scotia and Beyond, was announced today by the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport, as one of 20 projects across Canada awarded through Genome Canada’s Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP).  Other major project partners include the Nova Scotia Department of Energy and Mines; the Geological Survey of Canada, Natural Resources Canada; Research Nova Scotia; Nova Scotia Offshore Energy Research Association (OERA); Mitacs Canada; Applied Petroleum Technology (APT); the University of Calgary; and Saint Mary’s University.

The initiative builds on the work of a previous GAPP project in which genomics data and results were compared with petroleum geochemistry data to paint the clearest picture yet of petroleum deposits in areas of Nova Scotia’s offshore. The project announced today, involving the same team, will take that work to the next level by delivering high resolution tools and maps developed with the help of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), advanced ‘omics technologies and machine learning.

“The idea of using genomic (DNA-based) tools to help de-risk offshore oil and gas exploration efforts has transitioned from a ‘what if’ idea not that long ago into a compelling opportunity that has earned the support of this project’s many partners,” said Steve Armstrong, President and CEO of Genome Atlantic. “We are extremely pleased to have the opportunity to work with such a dedicated and talented group committed to establishing Nova Scotia as a leader within this globally competitive sector.”

The Province of Nova Scotia’s commitment to the project is part of its $12 million investment in offshore R&D over the next four years.  “For generations, the offshore has paid off for Nova Scotians and it still holds tremendous potential to grow our economy and create jobs across the province, especially in rural areas,” said Nova Scotia Energy and Mines Minister Derek Mombourquette. “By continuing to invest in leading-edge research we will find cleaner and safer ways to look for resources and attract international investment to our shores.”

The project is co-led by Dr. Casey Hubert (University of Calgary), Dr. Todd Ventura (Saint Mary’s University) and Adam MacDonald (NS Department of Energy and Mines) and is managed by Genome Atlantic in partnership with Genome Alberta.

 “This new project will allow us to explore sites that preliminary testing revealed as particularly promising, this time using AUV mapping, ROV (Remotely-Operated underwater Vehicle) video-guided sampling, and higher density sediment coring,” said Dr. Hubert.  “We will integrate a broader slate of ‘omics technologies, including rapid DNA sequencing using hand-held devices that will enable genomics to guide daily sampling decisions on the ship out at sea.  This work will combine various cutting-edge technologies to map petroleum potential while simultaneously generating environmental baseline data on seabed biodiversity.”

“This GAPP is expanding on the microbiological toolkit with the addition of lipidomics,” said Dr. Todd Ventura, Saint Mary’s University.  “This allows us, for the first time, to detect ancient, deep water seeps that, while no longer active or infrequently active, nevertheless paint a more comprehensive picture of a dynamic petroleum system. Additionally, speed is everything – and with the development of a lab on a ship and AI-based data mining, we hope to greatly improve the turnaround time between sample acquisition, processing and data analysis – all of which will help exploration companies in their decisions.”

“De-risking our offshore for exploration is critical for Nova Scotia to remain competitive in a global market,” said Adam MacDonald, NS Department of Energy and Mines. “Adding new tools and building innovative and integrated projects such as this collaboration with the University of Calgary and Saint Mary’s University gains recognition and attention to our quality and capacity to compete. Not only do we de-risk exploration but this project provides environmental baseline information on the benthic life and communities that may be dependent on natural occurrences of hydrocarbon on the seafloor.”

“The advanced sampling and seafloor profiling techniques being used in the project will deliver rapid, high resolution tools and maps to reduce offshore exploration risk,” said Alisdair McLean, Executive Director of OERA. “The hope is to engage local companies with advanced technologies, which will build business opportunities in a global industry.”

Genome Atlantic is a not-for-profit corporation with a mission to help Atlantic Canada reap the economic and social benefits of genomics technologies.  Since its inception in 2000, the corporation has worked with a range of private and public-sector partners to enable more than $100 million in new genomics R&D. Please visit genomeatlantic.ca for more information.

Genome Alberta is a publicly funded not-for profit corporation which invests primarily in large-scale genome sciences research projects and technology platforms focused on areas of strategic importance to the province including, forestry, plant and animal agriculture, energy, environment, and human health.  To date, the organization has managed a research portfolio with approved budgets of over $228 million.  Please visit GenomeAlberta.ca for more information.

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Media Contact:  Charmaine Gaudet, 902-488-7837, cgaudet@genomeatlantic.ca