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Alberta to Seek Listeria Markers for Food Safety Testing

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A University of Alberta investigator will head a research team that will use C$1.4 million ($1.3 milliaon) to sequence and map the genomes of a number of strains of Listeria with the aim of identifying those that are most dangerous to humans and those that are likely to survive in food-processing plants.

Genome Canada said today that it has provided C$250,000 through its Genome Alberta branch and that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency added another C$250,000 to the project. Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions provided C$100,000. The remaining funding will come from federal, provincial, academic, and industry partners, including Maple Leaf Foods.

University of Alberta Associate Professor Linda Chui will head the project, which will seek to discover genetic markers in the Listeria genomes that will enable harmful strains of the bacteria to be rapidly identified in food and in food-processing facilities.

"The different researchers on the team bring leading-edge expertise in many areas including food sample preparation, assays development, state-of-the art capacity in bioinformatics and genomics, pathogen detection and outbreak response," Chui said in a statement.

"Genomics research such as this is equipping us with new, effective ways to combat threats to food safety. The impact this research will have on averting potential outbreaks and the consequences for Canadian families and industry is tremendous," added Genome Canada's President and CEO, Pierre Meulien.

Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions is a publicly backed corporation that seeks to identify, coordinate, and fund research projects that help address industry challenges and which offer economic, environmental, and social benefits.

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