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Canada to Fund Study of Listeria Genome

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Canadian government plans to provide C$600,000 ($594,000) for a research project that will show how genomics-based technologies can be used in the detection and surveillance of a robust and dangerous bacterial pathogen that can be found in the food supply.

Several partners including Genome Canada, Genome Alberta, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions will provide the C$600,000 for a study that will map the genome of the Listeria monocytogenes and lead to new ways to identify infection, Genome Canada said today.

Listeria appears to be capable of surviving freezing, dehydration, and exposure to temperature regimes used in pasteurization, making the bacterium "a serious concern for the food industry," Genome Canada said. Although healthy people generally are not affected by Listeria, an infection can lead to serious complications in the elderly, children, and pregnant women.

To fund the 18-month project, Genome Canada and the CFIA each will provide C$250,000, and Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions will provide C$100,000.

"Genomics research will bring a new level of advanced innovation and technology to food safety. We expect to provide the means to enable both the food industry and food regulators to respond swiftly to food safety investigations by identifying a potentially dangerous food contaminant as quickly as possible to prevent or limit the impact of an outbreak," Pierre Meulien, president and CEO of Genome Canada, said in a statement.

The request for applications was released under Genome Canada's Emerging Issues Program, which funds projects that respond to new issues of high or rising importance. The institution receiving the funding will be expected to partner its researchers with scientists from the CFIA and from other Science and Technology Innovation Centres and Canadian sequencing centers.