The EcoBiomics Project: genomics research and development initiative
How Canada is using genomics technologies to study microbial biodiversity in soil and aquatic ecosystems.
Biodiversity is the variety of life on planet Earth. Biodiversity ranges from large species like lions, to small species called microbes. Microbial biodiversity in soil and water maintain ecosystem services that support Canada's economy. Ecosystem services provide clean water, healthy crops and robust forests.
The EcoBiomics Project
The Metagenomic-Based Ecosystem Biomonitoring (EcoBiomics) Project is part of the Genomics Research and Development Initiative. The EcoBiomics Project has been active since 2016 and will end in 2022. It is a collaboration between 7 federal governments and agencies.
Land use disturbances are adversely impacting microbial biodiversity in soil and aquatic ecosystems. Genomics tools are now recognized as the best way to examine these complex systems. The EcoBiomics Project uses advanced, genomics tools to characterize microbial biodiversity in soil and water. This allows for a better understanding of what microbes are present and how they interact with their environment. This knowledge will improve environmental assessment, monitoring, and remediation in Canada.
It has three main goals to help improve water quality and soil health in Canada:
- to develop standard methods for collecting and analyzing data, such as soil and water sample collection, DNA extraction, next generation sequencing, and bioinformatics analysis pipelines
- to establish new genomic observatories in Canada and gather baseline data to assess changes in soil or aquatic biodiversity in the future
- to learn more about biodiversity in aquatic and soil ecosystems by studying communities of aquatic microbes, soil microbes and invertebrates.
The EcoBiomics Project collects data from diverse sites in five provinces across Canada:
- Alberta – rivers, watersheds, forests
- Ontario – rivers, lakes, watersheds, forests, agriculture
- Quebec – rivers, lakes, watersheds, forests
- New Brunswick – rivers, watersheds
- Prince Edward Island – rivers, watersheds.
Within each province, there are a variety of environmental characteristics including boreal forest, riparian habitat, agricultural lands and transboundary lakes.
Our success stories
- Bioinformatics: unique collaboration delivers unique scientific capacity
- Little things matter: genomics enabling new understanding of soil microbial communities
- The green slime: genomics researchers do battle with summer spoiler
- Benthic macroinvertebrates no match for genomics technologies
- Total biodiversity using genomics to see how it all comes together
- The EcoBiomics Project: Advancing Metagenomics Assessment of Soil Health and Freshwater Quality in Canada
- Understanding agricultural soil microbiomes
- Soil microbiomes: Tracking changes below ground
- Healthy soil, healthy farms
- Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network
- Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute
- Earth Microbiome Project
- Global Omics Observatory Network
- Genome Canada
Donald Baird, Project Co-Lead: Donald.Baird@ec.gc.ca
James Macklin, Project Co-Lead: James.Macklin@agr.gc.ca
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