Genomics Blog

April 24, 2015 3:00 PM
LISTEN: No Beetles Allowed
Don't transport firewood between campgrounds

The weather is warming up and many of you will soon be heading out to your favourite camping spot to relax and spend some time sitting around an open fire. That means stocking up on firewood either by purchasing it at the campground or finding a place where you can chop your own.
Before you start moving firewood around from place to place think of what may be hiding in the nooks and crannies of that wood. There could be tiny bugs just waiting for a free ride to a new home and a new supply of food.
University of Alberta Researcher Janice Cooke has this note of caution.
April 23, 2015 2:15 PM
That's a Wrap on another DNA Day in Canada
Tuesday, April 21st was our 5th DNA Day in Canada. We make an extra effort every April to raise awareness about DNA and the impact the science of genetics in having on our world. From giving a better understanding of diseases to how to make certain treatments more effective the science is changing the way medicine is practiced. We use genetic technology in developing new and better crops and it isn't always about genetic modification. Understanding genetics means we can select plant varieties or livestock traits far more efficiently. The study of genetics can take us so many places.
April 22, 2015 10:54 AM
The rude behaviour of the Mountain Pine Beetle
A couple of years ago Janice Cooke and her team were able to use genomics to prove that mountain pine beetles had developed an appetite for Jack pines. The beetles had previously preferred to dine out on the lodgepole pine but with the jump to a new species, the mountain pine beetle has a dinner buffet that goes clear across Canada's forests from the west to the east.

Janice and her TRIA team started out with funding from Genome Alberta and the Government of Alberta, and now has new funding from NSERC to expand the work and study the complete ecology of the epidemic.  They have been able to look at the how the beetle introduces a blue stain fungus into the tree and force it into defence mode. And they have also found why - the subsequent reaction of the tree is a source of nutrition for the beetle. As you'll hear in this podcast from freelance broadcaster Don Hill, that is a very poor and destructive way for beetles to treat Canada's pine trees.
April 9, 2015 2:28 PM
Bee numbers are dropping but all is not lost
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People and bees go together - even if there is the occasional misstep resulting in a sting. We rely on bees to pollinate everything from our favourite flowers to the crops we need for food. In Alberta, our major cash crop Hybrid Canola would not survive if the bees stopped flitting from plant to plant. If you take into account all the economic factors and spin-offs from the province's canola crop, about 80,000 bee colonies ensure the viability of a 4 billion dollar sector. Yes - billions.
With bee populations in decline around the world, there is good reason to worry about not just the economic consequences, but what it could eventually mean to our food supply.
Freelance broadcaster Don Hill talked to Dr. Leonard Foster, an Associate Professor in Biochemistry at UBC and a Genome Canada funded researcher studying bee populations and genetics.  As you can hear in our latest podcast installment, Dr. Foster says there is hope.
March 20, 2015 1:05 PM
More cautious use of antibiotic use in our pets called for by experts
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Medical researchers and health care experts are warning against the overuse of antibiotics in people, in labs, and in livestock. Now the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine has come out and said their needs to be better surveillance of antibiotic use in pets.
We have a multimedia overview with audio, video , and a slide presentation for you to help explain the problem.