Centre for Biodiversity Genomics and collaborators receive $7.2 million to reveal Canadian biodiversity
Danielle Beaulieu, an agricultural technician for McCain, sampling soil in a potato field with a soil core on the first Farms of the Future in Florenceville-Bristol, NB.
July 23, 2021

BIOSCAN–Canada, led by Professor Paul Hebert, will receive more than $7 million to support genomics research and technologies that will enhance understanding of Canadian biodiversity.

“By illuminating biodiversity with genomic approaches, BIOSCAN–Canada will foster environmental sustainability in settings spanning our nation – from agriculture in New Brunswick to forestry in British Columbia and wildlife management in Nunavut,” says Hebert, Director of the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics (CBG) at the University of Guelph.

The BIOSCAN-Canada project is one of eight large-scale applied research projects in Canada’s natural resources and environment sectors that will receive $24 million in federal support from Genome Canada. With co-funding from provincial and federal agencies, universities, industry, and international partners valued at $35.4 million, the total investment in the eight projects is close to $60 million. BIOSCAN–Canada begins life with a powerful alliance involving Canadian Universities (McGill, Victoria, York), firms (Biologica Environmental, McCain Foods), NGOs (BC Parks Foundation, Hakai Institute), and Polar Knowledge Canada.

Hebert, who leads the International Barcode of Life (iBOL) Consortium as its scientific director, launched BIOSCAN global research program in 2019. BIOSCAN  leverages the expertise of researchers and organizations in more than 40 nations to address the global biodiversity crisis. 

The new funding will support Hebert’s Canadian research team, enabling CBG staff to develop new protocols that will accelerate DNA barcoding and reduce its costs. Instruments normally used to sequence whole genomes will instead be employed to gather DNA barcodes from thousands of specimens at a time, generating biodiversity data that is key to the well-being of Canadian environments and the economy. These advances will also benefit the broader global biodiversity research community. 

BIOSCAN-Canada’s work will reveal new species in under-explored areas such as the Arctic and the ocean floor while probing hidden species interactions and tracking shifting species distribution in response to environmental change. The project will equally include Indigenous ways of knowing forming an accounting method for “natural capital” that extends beyond conventional economic metrics.

Sujeevan Ratnasingham, chief architect of BOLD Systems
Prof. Paul Hebert (Photo: Centre for Biodiversity Genomics)

By coupling genomics-based biodiversity data with a Natural Capital Accounting system, BIOSCAN–Canada will enable effective, timely environmental impact assessments and policymaking for the forestry, mining, and agricultural sectors as well as for conservation planning. Through such action, it will slow biodiversity loss, improve Indigenous relations through consultation, increase the sustainability of our agricultural and forestry sectors, and strengthen Canada’s leadership in global conservation efforts.

For more information on BIOSCAN, visit: bioscan.life

For more information on the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, visit: biodiversitygenomics.net

Media Contacts:

International Barcode of Life Consortium

Hannah James
Manager – Media and Strategic Communications

The International Barcode of Life (iBOL) Consortium is a research alliance with a mission to develop and apply a globally accessible, DNA-based system for the discovery and identification of all multicellular life. Our vision is to illuminate biodiversity for the benefit of our living planet.

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