Profs, DNA Barcoding Make Headlines

January 10, 2014 - In the News

A video produced by geography professor Evan Fraser and a group of graduate students is featured on the website of the CBC current affairs program George Stromboulopoulos Tonight. Fraser and the students created a series of new videos to spark discussions on how the world will feed its projected global population. Their latest effort builds on a video they produced in 20102 as part of the Feeding Nine Billion project.

Profs. Jonathan Newman, Environmental Sciences, and Doug Campbell, Pathobiology, were quoted in a Toronto Star story Friday about the decline of bats. Newman, SES director, talked about the role extreme weather and habitat loss have played, while Campbell, a wildlife pathologist, talked about the effect of an invasive fungal disease.

Al Weersink, a professor of agri-environmental policy, farm structure and production economics, is featured in today’s Ottawa Citizen. He commented on the effect the proposed U.S. Farm Bill would have on Canadian farmers. Weersink said Canadians likely won’t see much of an impact because competition among grocery retailers is keeping food prices low.

Prof. Sylvain Charlebois, CME associate dean, was quoted in a Toronto Star story Jan. 10 about the effect the sinking Canadian dollar will have on grocery prices. He also published an op-ed column Jan. 6 in the Globe and Mail on the problem of low food prices for food retailers.

U of G professor Paul Hebert and DNA barcoding technology are in the news this week. A story about DNA barcoding and the Guelph-based International Barcode of Life (iBOL) project was published in Forbes magazine this week.

Headed by Hebert, iBOL is the largest-ever initiative in biodiversity genomics, involving more than 1,000 researchers in 26 countries. Working with software company SAP, iBOL is now building a new platform and applications to collect, store, analyze and share DNA data from all species of organisms, including developing mobile apps.

A Jan. 1 article in Green Business also looked at mobile apps and the many other uses of DNA barcoding. Hebert, an integrative biology professor, was interviewed by BBC radio Dec. 26. He appeared on the popular show Inside Science.

Created by Hebert, DNA barcoding allows scientists to identify animal and plant species using short, standardized regions of genetic material. The technology works for all life stages and allows biologists to rapidly identify species from a snippet of tissue.

Hebert and his research team have honed the technique into a multifaceted international research program. The Biodiversity Institute of Ontario and the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, both located at U of G, form the scientific hub of iBOL.

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1