Key to an innovative future for Canada
Key to an innovative future for Canada
We eat, we breathe, we live biodiversity
tiniest genetic variations within quickly than they used to, and it
these species. It is a colossal concept needs to be understood that every
to grasp, but researchers across species we lose is the equivalent
the globe are working together to to the loss of another prospective
understand biodiversity, and the resource.”
implications human activities have
on its future. Indeed there is no end in sight for
the potential of natural resources.
“About forty percent of the global Today wheat is being transformed
economy is based on biological into car interiors, cows are being
processes,” White explains. “We used to fight back against invasive
unfortunately never realize how plant species, and trees are being
heavily we rely on biodiversity until utilized as water filtration systems.
natural environments are de-rooted
and we’re left at a significant loss. Thankfully Agriculture and
We need to learn how to maximize Agri-Food Canada has programs
Everyday, the sun rises over fields, on Earth at all levels of biological the investment biodiversity has implemented across the country that
lakes and forests casting a warm organization - genetic, species and given us, before it’s too late.” integrate people from a variety of
glow on the vast expanses of ecosystems. It includes the differences specialties, to promote collaborations
potential resources and habitats between species and the even smaller With this acknowledgment in mind, in science and innovation that can
that contribute to biodiversity. differences within species at a researchers are taking interest in all contribute to the positive change.
The delicate and irreplaceable chromosomal level. aspects of biodiversity. Genebanks
network of plants, animals and around the world are collecting “The preservation of biodiversity
insects that has evolved over billions The International Year of Biodiversity and protecting species, programs are requires a multidisciplinary and
of years, has gained the attention offers the opportunity to increase being implemented that maintain intergenerational approach,”
of the United Nations who have global awareness of the importance species and their habitats, innovative White says.
declared 2010 the International of biodiversity. research is being done to create more
Year of Biodiversity. resilient and useful strains and studies “There are very few, if any species
“The International Year of Biodiversity are aiming to prevent countries’ native that live solitarily,” agrees Dr. Grace,
“The food we eat, the air we is a wonderful chance to bring emergent species from extinction through human “and this isn’t a topic that can
breathe, the houses we live in, the leaders to the table to talk about where impacts and invasive species. be tackled on individual fronts.
fuel we use and the medicines we our planet has come from, and where International partnerships are
can’t live without are all dependent things are headed,” says Kathryn White, “Many people don’t realize how irreplaceable, and they will be
on biodiversity,” emphasized Executive Director of United Nations quickly human activity is impacting the answer to maintaining the
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Canada. “It’s about so much more than biodiversity,” Dr. Grace says. “Species beauty and the bounty of our
Science Director Dr. Barry Grace. establishing our carbon footprint so far are becoming extinct much more Earth’s biodiversity.”
“The fine intermingling of species – it’s about coming together as a nation
that exists to provide us with the to engage Canadians in all aspects of
basic functional services we require this important topic.”
Recognizing the importance of biodiversity, Canada became
is absolutely incredible.”
Scientists believe that there are over the first industrialized country to ratify the United Nations
“Biological diversity” or 13 million species on the earth, Convention on Biological Diversity in 1992. This international
“biodiversity” is the variety of life and biodiversity includes even the treaty provides an action plan for Canada in conservation,
sustainability, and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits
that result from the genetic components of biological
diversity, such as the use of raw materials for scientific
research and commercial products like pharmaceutical drugs.
In this Issue…
p. 2 ............................... Canada’s National Collections
p. 6 .............................................Canada’s Genebanks
p. 8 ......................................................Crop Innovation
p. 10 .................................................... Invasive Species
p. 12 .............................................. On-farm Biodiversity
Canada’s National Collections
Preserving Canada’s treasured collections
As one of Agriculture and Agri-
Food Canada’s 19 national research
centres, ECORC is an active centre
of exploration and discovery,
Located on the Central Experimental their collective intellectual power,
Farm in ottawa, as part of the Eastern and scientific and technological
Cereal and oilseed research Centre, capabilities, work with the various
the KW Neatby and William Saunders specimens in the collections
buildings look like most government to ensure the protection and
buildings of their day – traditonal preservation of Canadian
brick buildings with rows and rows of biodiversity.
windows. Most visitors probably walk
by without ever really giving these Through examination, analysis • The Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids
buildings a second thought. and synthesis of the treasured and Nematodes (CNC), containing over 16 million
collections, the team of scientific
specimens and one of the five largest collections
Yet, within those brick walls is an superheroes:
assemblage of invaluable national of its kind in the world;
treasures - the largest bioresource • identify unknown species and
reference collections of fungi, insects specimens, sometimes for the • The Glomeromycota in vitro Collection (GINCO)
and vascular plants in Canada. first time; holding 150 mycorrhiza isolates on plant hosts;
• develop control measures to
Put quite simply, as Dr. owen Lonsdale, stem the advance of invasive • National Mycological Herbarium (DAOM)
Collections Manager for the Canadian alien species into Canada; contains 350 thousand specimens as well as
National Collection of Insects (CNC) • forecast the spread of the Canadian Collection of Fungal Cultures (CCFC) –
remarked, “There are numerous invasive species; a living fungal collection with over 16 thousand
collections throughout the country • discover the scientific, medical, cultures; and the
that are either government or environmental and social
university associated, the CNC just importance of the specimens; • National Vascular Plant Herbarium (DAO)
happens to be one of the biggest in and, with increasing importance,
with 1.5 million specimens.
the world and the most frequently • provide support for research
used in Canada. This is where we, as aimed at reducing the billions
a country, gather and preserve much of dollars lost annually to invasive
of our biodiversity.” species in agriculture, forestry,
northern wilderness areas and
The Eastern Cereal and oilseed other native habitants.
research Centre (ECorC) not
only houses some of the country’s And so much more!
most valuable natural treasures; it
is also home to a team of over
75 scientists, researchers, biologists
and technicians who, through
Key to an innovative future for Canada
Canada’s National Collections (cont’d.)
The potato wart outbreak in 2000 Prince Edward Island – the potato DNA saved an enormous amount “We are in constant interaction with
illustrates the importance of both the capital of Canada. Immediately, the of time, allowing many samples to major collections around the world.
collections and scientists in not only potato industry ceased exports and be tested quickly without the need Not only do we allow them to borrow
protecting and preserving Canadian the federal government knew the to evaluate each one individually from our collections but we are able
biodiversity but also addressing infected fields must be located and under a microscope. to utilize their collections via loans as
economically-important problems contained quickly before there was well. We are constantly collaborating
for the agri-food sector. to be any chance of opening the “Being a quarantined organism, with international scientific
market back up. The Canadian Food it was not the sort of thing that organizations. There is a great deal of
Native to Europe, the quarantinable Inspection Agency turned to the could be brought over the border mutual respect within the collections
fungus responsible for potato wart Eastern Cereal and oilseed research for quick study by our researchers. community,” notes Dr. redhead.
disease attacks the growing points on Centre mycology unit headed by The resources had to already be in
the potato tuber. The most obvious Dr. André Lévesque in ottawa! Canada. The herbarium and culture And while, Dr. Lonsdale admits,
symptoms of the disease are soft collection had everything necessary to “To know you are the first person
cauliflower-like proliferations of “The mycology molecular labs, make comparable DNA extractions to identify a species that nobody has
tissue surrounding the infected cells. together with the herbarium and of the causal agent and of related ever seen before NEvEr gets old.
White at first, when exposed to light culture collection staff worked fungi. This was only achievable It is a true honour to bring it into
the wart-like proliferations become overtime – day and night. Extracting because of the collections.” the world and explain its relevance.”
green in colour and then darken. and comparing DNA from the new
Eventually, the wart tissue rots to and historic samples of the disease It’s no wonder that scientific In true superhero fashion, he adds,
release thick-walled, persistent spores from the mycology herbarium, and champions from around the world “This is something we all (collections
that can live for up to 40 years in the from related fungi from both the come to ECorC, a Canadian community) take quite seriously.
soil. Infested land must be taken out herbarium and the living fungal “superhero hub,” to visit the our work is a lot of fun but with it
of production. culture collection; they were able, collections. With its world-renowned also comes a lot of social responsibility.
in less than a week, to develop a reputation, an international network It is imperative that we are able to relay,
Potato wart was discovered back preliminary unique genetic profile of scientists, researchers, biologists both domestically and internationally,
in 1909 to have contaminated of the disease agent affecting the and technicians come from far and the importance of our work and the
soil in Newfoundland (prior to potatoes,” recounts Dr. Scott wide to utilize and learn from the relevance it has for humans, society
Newfoundland becoming a redhead, research Scientist and collections in order to support and and, in particular, global biodiversity.”
Canadian province), and the Curator at the National Mycology advance their own investigations
disease was quarantined accordingly. Herbarium. and pursuits.
The government even forbade the
movement and transportation of soil Without having a collection that
and potatoes out of the province. included samples of the disease,
This remains true to today. it would have been much more
difficult for scientists to profile
However, in 2000 a serious problem the disease’s DNA sequence – a
arose: a sudden outbreak of potato necessity in developing an effective “This is something we all
wart disease was being reported in assay. The ability to sequence the (collections community) take
quite seriously. our work is a
lot of fun but with it also comes
a lot of social responsibility.”
- Dr. owen Lonsdale
“We are in constant interaction with major collections around the world. Not only
do we allow them to borrow from our collections but we are able to utilize their
collections via loans as well. We are constantly collaborating with international
scientific organizations. There is a great deal of mutual respect within the
- Dr. Scott redhead
Canada’s National Collections (cont’d.)
Taxonomy in action – discovering
new invasive species
The highly invasive plant species known as European
common reed was originally found in Canada in 1910
but was confused with a similar native plant until
2001 when it entered a phase of rapid expansion.
The rapidly increasing populations led researchers to
discover that the plant was in fact an invasive alien
from Europe, disguised as a native species.
Dr. Paul Catling, research Scientist invaders. Without the collection of species in Canada. Tall, thick scientists are currently working
at the National Plant Herbarium, priceless specimens including a time reeds reaching to 3 meters, leaves to support the development
explains how this discovery sequence, this discovery would not with razor sharp edges, and deeply of monitoring and innovative
was made: have been possible.” embedded rhizomes assist this management strategies.
large perennial grass in effectively
“AAFC botanists have a very special Following the discovery, AAFC crowding out native plants and
tool for discovering plants in scientists not only studied the new aggressively taking over the natural
disguise. It is a collection of over species and plotted its movement environment.
1.5 million plant specimens collected but furthered their research to
throughout Canada over the last two predict future spread of the invader. “It is an aggressive plant that
centuries. To find out if the plant They predicted that it would enter thoroughly dominates many
that was recently spreading along the prairie provinces and it did places where it grows and it has a “Without the collection
the road was different, it was only within a week! They also warned devastating effect on native flora and
necessary to go to the collection of impacts on ducks in prairie fauna,” explains Dr. Catling. “In of priceless specimens
and carefully compare the spreading potholes and interference with some regions it has become a serious including a time sequence,
roadside plants with plants collected water flow in western irrigation competitor of cereal crops. Detecting this discovery would not
earlier in remote wetlands. districts. These impacts could cost it early so that it can be controlled
many millions of dollars. Being prior to much more extensive damage have been possible.”
AAFC botanists analyzed traits with alerted to the risks now provides can save a lot of money.”
respect to time and habitat and a little time to be prepared.
- Dr. Paul Catling
discovered that the plants lacking However, a correct prediction National Plant Herbarium
red colour, having small flowers, and European common reed has become does not denote the end of their
occupying nutrient-rich habitats were one of the top invasive alien plant involvement on this issue. AAFC
Canadian During International Year of Biodiversity (2010) Dr. André
Lévesque, was invited to share his expertise through a feature
biodiversity presentation at the International Year of Biodiversity Science
Policy Conference at the United Nations Educational, Scientific
expertise and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Headquarters in
presented to the Paris, France.
United Nations The January 2010 conference gathered together 250 participants
from all continents to present new scientific findings on
biodiversity relating to several key themes and issues, and
to assess implications for government policy-making.
Key to an innovative future for Canada
Canada’s National Collections (cont’d.)
Contributing to the “Catalogue of Life”
There are a lot of species in infrastructure for other value-added
projects that offer the more attractive
This project - by giving a baseline
for species at this point in time - is a
the world - perhaps as many information such as pictures,
identification aids, or references
significant contribution to the world’s
ability to describe, conserve, and
as 13 million! for a species.” manage biodiversity.
“ITIS presently has about “We have 250 years of work by
Classifying them all is quite complex explains. “Together, we’re building 600,000 names in its database,” taxonomists, and still no complete
and only a fraction of these have a ‘Catalogue of Life’ that’s aiming Dr. Baillargeon says. “By April 2010 list of what is known to exist on
been properly recognized, described to index every identified living the collaboration with Species our planet,” Dr. Baillargeon reflects.
and named. So far there is no species in the entire world – from 2000 will have over 1.2 million “We need to start adequately
complete list of all of the named tiny microbes to giant whales.” species recorded from around the managing our resources, and to
species making classification even world, and we believe this number do that, we need to really know
more difficult - but this issue is The ITIS catalogue will contain will be about 1.8 million when what’s out there right now.”
finally being addressed. Agriculture scientific names, synonyms, the list is complete.”
and Agri-Food Canada is part of an common names and hierarchical
international partnership called the classification for land, water, and AAFC is primarily responsible for
Integrated Taxonomic Information airborne organisms mainly found in providing multilingual interfaces
System (ITIS) which aspires to do North America from all biological for all of the information being
just that – help catalogue every kingdoms - animals, plants, fungi, put together. Through this, we are
known living organism in the world. and microbes. facilitating the sharing of biological
information among researchers and
“ITIS is a North American “ITIS is like a dictionary of cooperating agencies globally for
initiative that is working with the names,” Dr. Baillargeon describes. a worldwide network.
global indexing project called Species “Not particularly attractive, but
2000,” Biologist Dr. Guy Baillargeon an indispensable underlying
“Together, we’re building a ‘Catalogue of Life’ that’s
aiming to index every identified living species in the
entire world – from tiny microbes to giant whales.”
- Dr. Guy Baillargeon
As a taxonomist with the National Biological Collections in and taxonomy helps in early detection of invasive species,
Ottawa, Dr. Lévesque’s research supports biodiversity efforts and supports accurate diagnostics of pests and pathogens.
as he works with leading edge technology to analyze and Important information is provided to authorities responsible
identify fungi and fungal cultures. Using DNA technology initially for the security of international trade and commerce.
pioneered by the medical field, Dr. Lévesque set up a DNA lab at
the Eastern Cereal and Oilseed Research Centre in Ottawa which
has become critical for rapid, routine and accurate identification
of fungal organisms.
The lab supports research by other scientists with the National
Collections and is allowing major advances in a number of
agricultural areas such as plant pathology. Many of these
scientists also work on the DNA Barcode of Life, an international
initiative to develop further the routine use of DNA sequencing for
identification that originated from the University of Guelph.
Dr. Lévesque’s presentation at the United Nations Conference
explored how the sequencing of DNA, the blueprint of life, has
created a revolution in taxonomy. Research into biodiversity
Preserving our genetic resources
It’s like finding a needle in a haystack. research Centre in Saskatchewan fruit crops in the Canadian Clonal areas outside of Canada,” states
It takes years of patience and research where Dr. Ken richards oversees the Genebank at AAFC’s Greenhouse Dr. richards. “No country can
to develop a new plant resistant to Canadian Genetic resources Program. and Processing Crops research pretend to preserve on its own all
a particular crop pest and still have Centre in Harrow, ontario. of the genetic diversity needed for
consumer appeal. It’s important for The site in Saskatoon is responsible all of its crop plants for all time.
scientists to have a large selection of for more than 1,000 species “very few people realize Canada It’s vitally important to coordinate
genetic materials as you never know of plants and preserves over conserves 1,500 different strawberries and share the work of conservation
which variety contains the genetic 113,000 seed samples in its or over 850 unique apples,” says among countries for the benefit
resistance to a future crop pest. seed genebank including native Margie Luffman, curator of the of citizens everywhere.”
Canadian plants of economic genebank. “Although we might not
importance or those at risk of loss commercially grow all the varieties,
to our biodiversity. on Canada’s each one is distinct and the genetic
behalf, it has also accepted formal information inside may become a
responsibility for principal world valuable resource in the future as
collections of barley and oat and scientists look to the past as they
backup world collection of pearl millet. develop new varieties.” FAsT FACTs
stats on samples
The main backup facility for Canada’s Scientists in Fredericton, New stored at Canadian
seed collection is the United States Brunswick, also maintain a collection Genebanks
Department of Agriculture facility of over 140 heirloom and modern
oat .................................. 28,000
in Fort Collins, Colorado. Canadian bred potato varieties at
barley ............................. 39,000
AAFC’s Potato research Centre. “The .
wheat ............................. 14,000
Also located in Saskatoon is the diversity in the potato is vastly greater flax .................................... 3,500
newly-formed Canadian Animal than what we see on the produce brassicas – mustard, canola .3,500
Genetic resources Program, a joint counters in our stores,” emphasized forages – alfalfa, grasses . 4,500 .
initiative between AAFC and the retired potato breeder, Dr. richard tomato .............................. 2,800
University of Saskatchewan. Created Tarn. “Take the humble potato… this .
apple ................................... 850
Today’s agriculture is intensive and in 2005, this program ensures the crop originated in South America and strawberry ........................ 1,500
benefits from the genetic uniformity long-term conservation of genetic spread throughout the world. Today potato .................................. 140
of crops. There is not a huge selection diversity of Canadian animal and there are over 7,500 different potato .
peach .................................... 63
or variation in today’s crop plants. poultry breeds by cryopreserving varieties from around the world in the pear ..................................... 130
This is a concern for plant breeders the germplasm. collection at the International Potato Canada has the world’s largest
and scientists worldwide who are Centre in Peru.” collections of barley and oat and
looking for genetic materials. on The Canadian Genetic resources significant collections of flax and
a global scale, the United Nations Program also includes a collection “Canadian agriculture is based bird’s-foot trefoil, an important
Food and Agriculture organization of over 3,500 tree-fruit and small- on crops that originated from forage legume for cattle production.
has recognized the importance of
protecting and preserving genetic
resources for food and agriculture.
They work in concert with the
Consultative Group on International
Agricultural research (CGIAr),
a worldwide network of plant genetic Banking on a future for seeds –
resources centres and the Global Global seedbank in Norway
Crop Diversity Trust based in
The Government of Norway, along with help from the Global Crop Diversity
Trust, has developed the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, sometimes referred
to as the “Doomsday Vault,” to conserve plant materials for future
In Canada, Agriculture and generations. It will be the most secure conservation facility in the
Agri-Food Canada identifies, world, existing to store backup copies of the world’s seeds in case the
collects, preserves and encourages primary repository holding them is compromised. In the winter of 2008,
utilization of crops grown in Dr. Ken Richards delivered on behalf of Plant Gene Resources of Canada
Canada through Plant Gene about 6,000 distinct samples from the Canadian genebank collection
resources of Canada (PGrC). representing about 90 species of plants to this global seed storage facility
The headquarters for this national in Norway. Over the last three years more seeds have been sent for
operation rests at the Saskatoon a total of 15,000 from Canada.
Key to an innovative future for Canada
Canada’s Genebanks (cont’d.)
Connecting conservation with innovation:
Maximizing the genetic diversity of flax
“The genetic diversity of flax is in AAFC’s Morden research Station
fact striking,” says Dr. Diederichsen. in Manitoba and the University
“Plants may be as short as 17 cm or of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.
as tall as 130 cm; the flowers can be
blue, purple, white or pink; seeds can ongoing collaboration with Flax
be brown, yellow, olive or speckled- Canada 2015 and Genome Prairie
we have a lot to work with!” will enable further innovative
research into the core collection
Since the base collection of flax is so and help ensure the sustainability
large and some samples are genetically of the Canadian flax industry and
very similar, PGrC researchers maintain Canada’s continued role
decided to select 380 accessions that as a world leader in flax production
concentrate the diversity found in the and exportation!
entire collection. This concentration
became the first core collection for
flax to be created worldwide and is
now being studied in a cooperative
project between flax breeders at
As the largest producer and exporter “This genebank includes more than
of oilseed flax in the world, genetic 3,500 samples of flax lines from
diversity is crucial to improving 76 countries,” explains Dr. Axel
Canadian flax and enhancing future Diederichsen, PGrC curator. “The
market opportunities. The nutritional germplasm represents an extremely
qualities of this crop, which is rich diverse array of flax types selected for
in omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fibre, over the course of many years – it’s AAFC negotiated the International Treaty on Plant Genetic
lignans and other antioxidants, has really an incredible resource!” Resources for Food and Agriculture. In 2002, Canada
also sparked a renewed interest in ratified this Treaty adopted by the United Nations FAO.
using it to enhance foods and in Historic cultivars and lines developed
developing new flax varieties for by AAFC, Canadian universities
specific end-uses. and private breeders are all a part
of this collection. Seeds from the
For the three independent flax flax collection are also available to Virus depository in summerland
breeding programs in Western breeders and researchers nationally and fungal collection in Ottawa
Canada, having access to a diverse and internationally. The web site
Virologist Mike Bernardy maintains the collection of over 250 viruses
gene pool is key. The Plant Gene (see www.agr.gc.ca/pgrc-rpc) provides
(mainly tree fruit viruses) at the Pacific Agricultural Research Centre
resources of Canada offers just that access to information about the
in Summerland, British Columbia. This collection has helped scientists
- allowing for the development of germplasm and can be used for develop diagnostic kits to identify viruses such as blueberry scorch
new lines of flax to meet the needs ordering seed samples. virus. Carolyn Babcock at the Eastern Cereal and Oilseed Research
of the latest farm practices, for new Centre in Ottawa maintains Canada’s fungal collection of over
crop uses as well as new varieties that Besides having the resources to create 16,000 living strains.
are adapted to climate change and new flax lines, and to keep them
resistant to disease. secure in the future, the collection
also offers the opportunity for
The Plant Gene resources of Canada detailed flax characterization and Animal genetics on-line
(PGrC) is located at the Saskatoon evaluation. In 1998, PGrC pursued
This year, AAFC will launch its new website for animal genetic resources
research Centre of Agriculture and this opportunity by beginning a
– making the holdings of the genetic collection available on-line. The
Agri-Food Canada. The collection number of projects with financial collaborative project was undertaken with scientists from the United States
has been assembled over the last support from the Saskatchewan Federal Department of Agriculture and Brazil. This important tool has already
40 years and is Canada’s national Flax Development Commission. attracted interest from other countries in Central and South America.
bank of plant germplasm for food These research projects led to many
and agriculture. publications assessing the diversity
of characteristics such as molecular
Through exchange with genebanks structure, drought tolerance, seed Molecular techniques measure biodiversity
and flax breeders in the United States, yield, plant height, disease resistance
russia, Germany, Czech republic, as well as the quality of seed oil, and
Poland, Turkey, Chile, and many fibre content. A new tool is helping scientists examine the past 100-plus years of
other countries, this irreplaceable genetic diversity in crops. Molecular techniques allow scientists to study
resource has been made possible. varieties of specific crops to see how their diversity has developed and
changed through the years and help us to better understand the risks
of genetic vulnerability and erosion. The research team is currently
examining samples of oat, flax, hard red spring wheat and potato –
their oat samples go back 115 years!
Flaxseed contains about 35-45% oil
and is one of nature’s richest oilseed
sources of omega-3 fatty acids. It
is also rich in dietary fibre and is an
excellent source of lignans and other
Canadian-grown success have had a global
impact on agriculture
Sometimes plants contain far more genetic
potential than is naturally selected for.
This is another benefit of using biodiversity
to develop new crops, as was the case with
canola, Canada’s Cinderella crop.
Canadian scientists Dr. Keith Downey of AAFC’s Saskatoon Research
Centre in Saskachewan and Dr. Baldur Stefansson, a plant breeder
at the University of Manitoba, developed the oilseed in 1974. It is a
genetic variation of rapeseed and was developed to reduce levels of
glucosinolates (which contribute to the sharp taste in mustard) and
spartan apple remove two fatty acids that aren’t essential for human growth.
A child is born: the father, Newtown Pippin, the mother, McIntosh, This resulted in a plant high in good fats like monounsaturates and
But upon later genetic evaluation, it is found the offspring shares no omega-3s and low in bad fats such as saturates and trans fats. It’s
genetic relationship to the putative father. A case of mistaken parenthood also a good source of Vitamin E.
begins. Thankfully, however, this is just the story of the Spartan apple –
whose true origin still remains a mystery.
Created in the 1920s by Dr. R.C. Palmer of AAFC’s Pacific Agriculture
Research Centre in Summerland, British Columbia, the Spartan was one of
the first apples in Canada to be created using a formal scientific breeding
system. Strangely, however, according to forensic evidence now available, soybean
a mix-up occurred making this crisp, long-lasting fruit an enjoyable plant-
breeding accident. Another plant developed in Canada to create
better value is the Harovinton soybean.
This underscores the joy of biodiversity. There is a cornucopia of benefits Food-grade soybeans in general have gained
farmers and consumers can gain through a marriage of nature’s natural significant attention lately for their assortment
selection and science’s advances. Often the consumer doesn’t understand of health benefits. They are the base for tofu,
what goes into the breeding process; they only see what’s on the grocery shelf. high in protein, a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, calcium,
folates and iron. The oil of the plant is also used in a variety of
Researchers in crop development try to look into the future to create a industrial lubricants, cosmetics, candles and even vehicle fuel.
long term, commercially successful crop. The apple breeding process
for example can take as long as 20 years, so researchers need to try to AAFC scientist Dr. Richard Buzzell developed a variety that has
predict what will be valued that far ahead. become world-renowned and significantly contributed to Canada’s
becoming a world leader in soybean production.
The ability to cross-breed different strains of crops together is essential. It allows
growers to produce crops under external pressures such as climate change and The Harovinton soybean - also known as the “Asian Pearl”- was
environmental factors that may normally prevent any growing at all. developed fifteen years ago at the Greenhouse and Processing Crops
Research Centre in Harrow, Ontario. The large-seeded, high-protein
Genetic diversity is indeed nature’s insurance policy as it equips plants variety is resistant to root-rot and is tolerant of herbicides, meaning it
with what may be needed for pest and climate resilience. It is also great has consistently produced high yields.
for people as it has resulted in new food, pharmaceutical and bio-energy
products that will contribute to meeting present and future demands. These features have contributed to the variety becoming highly
marketable, and particularly successful in the Japanese tofu market.
In 2006 it won the Seed of the Year competition which recognizes
new Canadian developed field crops, forage, fruits, vegetables or
Clearly biodiversity and scientist’s ability to understand and make use
of it has lead to significant improvements in crops available today.
Biodiversity needs to be maintained as it is unpredictable what problems
will arise in the future, and by keeping biodiversity in the gene pool, the
likelihood of being able to respond to future issues is increased.
Marquis wheat is another biodiversity success story that helped The result was the development of Marquis wheat which ripened
earn Canada its title as “the breadbasket of the world” early in the early, was resistant to heavy winds, and had the ability to produce
twentieth century. high quality flour and bread. This quickly became the primary strain of
wheat in Canada and the United States. One hundred years later, new
The story begins with Dr. Charles Saunders - an ‘experimentalist’ in spring wheat varieties continue to be developed with improved yields
Ottawa – and with just twelve grains of wheat. In the early 1900s, and disease resistance, yet many still trace some genes to the original
existing strains of high-quality wheat were unsuccessful in Canada Marquis wheat of the early 1900s.
because they matured too late and fell victim to early frosts. So Saunders
collected wheat samples from around the world and cross-bred them.
Key to an innovative future for Canada
Crop Innovation (cont’d.)
If you’ve ever had a squabble with a
friend about which beer tastes best,
you have biodiversity to thank. Not
only does biodiversity provide foods
with differing tastes, it also offers
opportunity for the cross-breeding of Plant origins and diversity
plants for industry to obtain disease parts of North America. With the use
resistance - ensuring your favourite of genebank databases – catalogues Canadian agriculture is mostly based on crops that originated from
areas outside of Canada. For example, wheat originated in the Near
beer won’t soon disappear. of preserved genetic information –
East (in such countries as Iran), corn in Mexico and Guatemala,
scientists have been working towards
alfalfa in Turkey, soybean in China, and potatoes in South America.
Dr. Andy Tekauz, an Agriculture finding lines of wheat, barley and In order to improve these crops we need access to biodiversity
and Agri-Food Canada researcher in most recently oats that are more resources in other countries. Crops of economic importance that
cereal diseases, is one scientist helping resistant to FHB. are native to Canada are limited and include sunflower, strawberry,
to make certain this doesn’t happen. raspberry, saskatoon berry, blueberry, currant, cranberry and a large
“It is a long process towards number of native forage and grass species.
Fusarium head blight (FHB) is a successfully making a crop more
cereal crop disease that decreases disease-resistant,” Tekauz reflects.
yield, and produces a toxin that “You may find a line of oat that has
is harmful to some livestock and good resistance, but if it results in
could be toxic to humans at high low yields or poor quality grain,
enough levels. It has been known it’s of little use.”
to affect wheat and barley for years, “Fortunately, amongst the the innovative research that leads
and has recently been found to The research team started by hundreds tested, we’ve been able to developing adapted, resistant
affect oats as well. selecting a few hundred lines of to identify about nine or ten oat strains will prevent this from
oats from around the world to test lines that have shown noteworthy happening, meaning no threat to
“It was both surprising and for resistance. Those that showed promise,” Tekauz says. “When locally produced bread, breakfast
interesting when FHB started resistance were then cross-bred grown in the FHB disease nursery cereal or beer.
showing up in our region in the with locally adapted lines to see they have had significantly lower
mid-1980s,” says Tekauz. “For me if a promising plant could be grown. levels of toxins than would
it began as a curiosity, but after it Dr. André Comeau, an AAFC normally be seen.”
caused a severe outbreak of blight in scientist at Ste.-Foy, Quebec, who
1993 it became a real concern. The had visited Brazil, suggested that The effects of FHB on cereal crops
scientific search for genetic resistance particular attention be paid to South are detrimental to both yield and
to mitigate the problem soon kicked American material. Since there is quality so the benefits of crossing
into high gear.” a very heavy infection pressure in local varieties with those that show
many South American countries resistance are substantial to farmers
The fungal disease thrives in moist, due to their humid conditions, it and consumers alike. If a disease
temperate climates, and over the past was believed that natural selection like this were allowed to run its
15 years has become one of the most for fusarium resistance had already course, entire strains of wheat,
important cereal diseases in many occurred there. oats and barley could be lost. So
“It is a long process towards successfully making a crop more disease-
resistant, you may find a line of oat that has good resistance, but if it
results in low yields or poor quality grain, it’s of little use.”
- Dr. Andy Tekauz
Invasives are growing to be a problem
“Invasive species are part of a vicious
cycle. A foreign weed will arrive, strangle
out native plants which are the food
supply for small creatures like rabbits,
rabbits decrease in number which means
wolves run out of food and the chain
- ron Moss
Canada is known for its natural Ever since people began traveling
beauty. Whether you’re a hunter, around the world invasives have
birdwatcher, hiker, or simply a existed. Unfortunately, as the ability
to travel has increased, so has
nature lover, there’s plenty to see
in Canada. The country contains the spread of invasives. Some are These aliens aren’t the large-eyed, spindly, green creatures seen
tundra, grasslands, deserts and favourable, such as corn, originally in movies, but instead are plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, insects,
forests resulting in unique ecological from Mexico, or the domestic cat amphibians, invertebrates, and micro-organisms that are foreign
communities of plants and animals from Africa. others, however, have to Canada’s naturally occurring environment.
living together in each particular been proven costly, such as the West
climate. As distinct as these areas are Nile virus, the Asian long-horned
from each other, however, they are beetle which is devastating Canadian
all presently fighting the same battle forests, and the Zebra mussel which
against aliens. starves local water life of its food.
These aliens aren’t the large-eyed, “It is estimated that invasives cost balance that allowed for Canadian AAFC is working with other
spindly, green creatures seen in Canada $4.2 billion per year,” ron biodiversity to exist is being lost.” organizations such as the Canadian
movies, but instead are plants, Moss, technical trade manager at Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)
mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Moss stresses that the most to better understand the issue
amphibians, invertebrates, and reports. “Whether it is foreign important strategy for dealing and put together prevention
micro-organisms that are foreign species affecting crop production, with invasive species is setting up programs that every Canadian
to Canada’s naturally occurring decreasing the existence of wild game programs for early detection and can participate in.
environment. They are called for hunting, or wiping out species rapid response. By the time an
“invasives” and whether they have that are used to promote tourism, entire field is filled with an invasive
spread from one part of Canada to invasives are hurting Canada and are species, the reversal is a lot harder
another, or have been brought in potentially the biggest threat to our to accomplish than if a small patch
from outside the country, they are biodiversity.” was detected early on.
considered a threat both to Canada’s
native species and biodiversity. “Invasives come from places “Invasive species are part of a
where they have their own vicious cycle,” Moss says. “A foreign
Invasives are successful because they threats that keep them under weed will arrive, strangle out native
have an advantage over the native control,” Moss explains. plants which are the food supply
species. They compete for resources, “Native Canadian life forms for small creatures like rabbits,
prey on local species, alter natural are already experiencing the rabbits decrease in number which
habitats, change valued local species stress of climate change and means wolves run out of food and
through hybridization and harm invasives arrive with nothing the chain reaction continues.”
local species that have no foreign holding them back. only
disease resistance. Ultimately, they the strongest survive, which
are taking over. unfortunately means the fragile
Key to an innovative future for Canada
Invasive Species (cont’d.)
Keeping in what we may want out
“Invasive weeds are very destructive.
They displace native vegetation, local critters
that feed on those plants, and the pollinators.
It’s great to know that we will be able to
reclaim huge expanses of land that have
unfortunately been taken over and prevent
it from happening in the future.”
“We’re learning of some incredible
methods of progress towards restoring the
Most people try to keep creepy to be met in a facility such as this to
crawlies out of the buildings they ensure we can study potential pests ecological balance that has been disrupted
live and work in, but Agriculture without actually introducing them by invasives,”
and Agri-Food Canada specialists are into the environment.”
trying to keep them in! The Insect-
Microbial Containment Facility at The organisms being examined
- Dr. rosemarie De Clerck-Floate
the Lethbridge research Centre in are of no risk to human health,
Alberta was recently constructed to but could potentially pose a risk
provide a secure environment for to Canadian agriculture. They are
researchers to study the biology, being carefully examined in the
efficacy, and specificity of exotic containment centre until deemed
pests, without allowing them to be safe or even beneficial for release
released into the environment. as biocontrol agents.
Invasive species web portal
“Pests” include arthropods “We’re learning of some incredible In May 2009 the Government of Canada launched an invasive species
(especially insects), pathogens and methods of progress towards Web portal as a partnership between various federal departments
weeds - most of which are invasive restoring the ecological balance (see www.invasivespecies.gc.ca). This portal serves as a gateway
species from outside of Canada – that has been disrupted by to information on Canada´s efforts to reduce the risks invasive species
and are destructive to agriculture. invasives,” Dr. De Clerck-Floate pose for the environment, economy and society. It also provides links
The new Insect-Microbial says. “For example, there are to other credible sources on invasive species.
Containment Facility, which was some invasive weeds that we
carefully constructed to ensure are beginning to control with
none of the test subjects could foreign insects.”
escape, is enabling researchers to
find new ways to naturally control Although helping control invasive
such pests. species is only one aspect of what
the centre does, it’s a significant one. “Invasive weeds are very destructive,” will be able to reclaim huge expanses
“We are now capable of doing some The ability to do this innovative Dr. De Clerck-Floate reflects. “They of land that have unfortunately
very exciting research we couldn’t research is so important because displace native vegetation, local critters been taken over and prevent it from
before,” research scientist it helps to maintain Canada’s that feed on those plants, and the happening in the future.”
Dr. rosemarie De Clerck-Floate says. biodiversity that is being threatened pollinators. It’s great to know that we
“There are lots of guidelines that need by exotic species.
“We are now capable of doing some very
exciting research we couldn’t before. There
are lots of guidelines that need to be met in
a facility such as this to ensure we can study
potential pests without actually introducing
them into the environment.”
- Dr. rosemarie De Clerck-Floate
Hand-in-hand to save the land
“We use a multi-focus approach for these
programs (Prairie Shelterbelt Program and the
Community Pasture Program). They integrate
and promote collaboration between many
international networks which lead to building
awareness of current issues, and help farmers
adopt Beneficial Management Practices (BMPs).”
- Jamie Hewitt
The maintenance of Canadian and at the same time offer a habitat for Ducks Unlimited also provides and has been considered one of
worldwide biodiversity is not a small birds, animals and pollinators. By farmers with the opportunity to the most successful conservation
task. Without the integration of a planting species native to Canada restore wetlands on their farms to initiatives in the world.
variety of unique and specialized in these areas, biodiversity is being their original size and configuration,
initiatives the job would be maintained and facilitated. often at no cost. restored wetlands “A lot of these projects have made
impossible. Agriculture and Agri- offer a natural filtration system for clear the inter-relationship of agro-
Food Canada is an important link to “We use a multi-focus approach runoff, they retain water which industry systems and biodiversity,”
a number of programs that add up to for these programs,” Environmental reduces soil erosion in the area, and Hewitt says. “our research at
a significant benefit to biodiversity. Analyst Jamie Hewitt explains. “They they support a wide range of plants demonstration sites is showing how
integrate and promote collaboration and animals that live only significantly biotic populations can
Programs such as the Prairie between many international networks in wetlands. be enhanced or destroyed by simple
Shelterbelt Program and the which lead to building awareness changes in agricultural practices.”
Community Pasture Program benefit of current issues, and help farmers Ducks Unlimited contributes to
farms and the environment. The adopt Beneficial Management The North American Waterfowl It is clear that everything in nature
Shelterbelt Program carefully plots a Practices (BMPs).” Management Plan which is a is intertwined, and so then our
variety of trees to protect farm crops project supported by organizations efforts need to be as well. Through
and livestock from wind, snow, dust As stewards of the land, many farmers in the United States, Canada and collaborative programs and inititaives
and the hot sun year-round. have already been adopting BMPs - Mexico. The plan works to conserve such as these, farmers, the
ways of conserving soil, air, water and migratory birds and their habitats environment and biodiversity
The Community Pasture Program biodiversity resources in agricultural in wetlands across North America, all benefit.
is AAFC’s largest and longest- landscapes without sacrificing farm
running contribution to landscape productivity. BMPs use a holistic
conservation on the Prairies. approach to management so that they
Created in the 1930s to reclaim offer some benefit to the farmer while
badly degraded lands, the program also significantly minimizing the
currently manages 929,000 hectares impacts and risks to the environment
(2.2 million acres) of land for created by farming.
environmental and economic
sustainability. These lands comprise AAFC works with conservation
85 community pastures in organizations such as Ducks
Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta. Unlimited and the North American
Waterfowl Management Plan which
Both initiatives increase water focus on BMPs that help conserve
retention in the area, act as a natural and increase aquatic land, habitats
filter for run off, prevent erosion, and wildlife in Canada.
and reduce greenhouse gases while
AAFC works with conservation organizations
such as Ducks Unlimited and the North American
Waterfowl Management Plan which focus on BMPs
that help conserve and increase aquatic land,
habitats and wildlife in Canada.
Key to an innovative future for Canada
On-farm Biodiversity (cont’d.)
Biodiversity extension specialists
Agriculture and biodiversity can
co-exist in harmony. Just ask Heather
habitat that is grazed low enough to
spot predators and depends on the
Wiebe, who is constantly amazed dung of large herbivores such as Native rangelands are areas of natural vegetation dominated by
by the connections she sees between cattle to line its nest. grasses and shrubs. Many have been drastically altered and decreased
natural ecosystems and agricultural in size as a result of agricultural and urban development, but their
management in her work as a Tools developed for the CPP include maintenance is beneficial in more ways than one. Short- and moderate-
biodiversity extension specialist a calendar that lists the periods height vegetation provides preferred habitats for birds, small mammals
such as gophers and squirrels, and larger game species such as deer
in the range and Biodiversity Unit of the year when SAr are most
and grouse. Rangelands also conserve the biodiversity of native plants,
in regina. sensitive to disturbance, factsheets
regulate water conditions and protect soil from erosion. Rangelands
on various species, interactive maps, are integral in the cattle industry as they provide livestock with larger
or ask biodiversity analyst Erl and recommendations for setbacks grazing areas. Cattle can be trained to eat certain plants, which can
Svendsen of Saskatoon, who is well for infrastructure. The unit (part in turn reduce the threat of certain invasive plant species in the area.
aware of the challenge of conducting of the Agriculture and Agri-Food Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada programs are working to sustain
research and protecting species at risk Canada Agri-Environment Services and expand these areas so Canadians can continue to reap
(SAr) that exist on Agriculture and Branch) also works with provincial their benefits.
Agri-Food Canada research sites. conservation data centres and other
specialists to ensure they are using
“It is a huge responsibility we have,” the best information available.
Wiebe says. “How can agriculture be
profitable yet leave the land resilient SAr can also influence the research
and accessible to wildlife?” that the department conducts in a be impacted,” Svendsen notes. “We involved in research investigating
very real and direct way. To date, provide advice and information so the role of wild pollinators in native
It’s a question the Community 33 SAr have been documented on those with the authority to make grassland systems in the foothills
Pasture Program (CPP), created in seven AAFC research properties in decisions have the right information.” of the rockies. In the future, he hopes
the 1930s to reclaim badly degraded British Columbia, Alberta, ontario to investigate the role of biodiversity
Prairie lands, aims to answer. and Quebec. These discoveries have A four-step evaluation process has been in pest and disease control, as well as
This AAFC-led program manages generated a need for greater awareness implemented on AAFC research farms soil fertility, to see if there are ways
929,000 hectares of land, comprising among AAFC staff working on these to provide land-use decision makers with that producers can take even better
85 vast community pastures in sites, and have implications for research, the information they need to protect advantage of the effect pollinators
Saskatchewan, Manitoba and habitat management and maintenance SAr. These steps include screening for can have on the ecosystem.
Alberta. It is one of several programs on a larger level, says Svendsen. wildlife habitat, developing habitat maps
dedicated to ensuring biodiversity with multiple Geographic Information So far, he has shared his findings
is protected and enhanced through These research sites are part of a System (GIS) layers, ground surveying, with producers in Alberta, British
effective management practices. larger landscape and it is the wild and management planning. Columbia and the Atlantic provinces.
and uncultivated areas of the sites that
contain sometimes quite rare SAr. For Yet another part of extension work “There is still a great deal we
example, a research site in Alberta is is tied more closely to research that don’t know about the role biodiversity
the only place in Canada containing will help the producer improve plays in ecosystems,” Wonneck says.
self-sustaining populations of four profitability while preserving “As we understand more, I think
SAr which are interdependent with biodiversity. we’ll be in a much better position
one another for either parasitical or to help producers simultaneously
reproductive purposes. For example, ecologist Mark Wonneck reduce their environmental impact
of Calgary is looking at ways that and improve their bottom line.”
“We look to the species experts, national biodiversity can provide benefits to
CPP encompasses - and here’s where SAr recovery strategies and status production systems. Mark is conducting
the harmonious co-existence part reports for information about threats research into the value of wild
comes in – the grazing of 210,000 cows, to a federally protected species pollinators in canola production
calves, bulls and horses on lands in agricultural landscapes. These systems in central Alberta that builds
containing fragile grassland are reviewed in the context of how on prior studies that suggest
ecosystems and many SAr. The operations on the AAFC research that providing habitat for bees (i.e.
grazing of cattle is symbiotically tied properties may need to be adjusted flowering plants, nesting sites and
to the survival of many SAr. For to accommodate SAr as well as how materials) can boost pollination services
example, the Burrowing owl chooses the agriculture sector as a whole may to both crops and yields. He is also
On-farm Biodiversity (cont’d.)
Canada’s popular poplar
Anticipating the changes in purpose too, but perhaps more the longer growing season. They are The program will give researchers a
climate, you would dress differently important, we’re sampling to find used to growing very rapidly for only a good look at what climate change will
if you were headed to northern the natural diversity of a single tree short period of time so even in warmer do to different species in the future and
Canada than if you were headed species and how it adapts uniquely climates they still end up really short.” will help them prepare for these effects.
south. In the spring you may to different environments.”
sport a toque in the Yukon, or a The research team is currently “It is very important to do these
pair of shorts in southern British The trees are collected from the investigating what might happen if kinds of collections to monitor the
Columbia. We react to our farthest stretches of Canada and will a tree with high photosynthetic rates changes in native species over time,”
environment – and so do plants! contribute to a gene conservation of is crossed with those that are used to Schroeder says. “It provides a baseline
A tree in northern Canada looks the poplar, one of the most widely long growing seasons. for comparison in the future, and
very different than the same type distributed plants across Canada. The what we learn about adaptability to
of tree in the south, which has collection also clearly demonstrates “Poplar trees are often used as a climate change with poplars can be
driven Agriculture and Agri-Food the natural adaptations of plants over natural filter beside waterways,” applied to other tree species.”
Canada agroforestry researchers to an evolutionary period. Schroeder explains. “They absorb a
investigate the adaptability of trees lot of things we don’t want in our
to climate change. “It’s quite interesting how varied these water, so we could potentially use
trees are in their growing behaviour,” the high uptake rates of northern
In one of the world’s most extensive Schroeder reflects. “I’m somewhat species to create even more effective
undertakings of plant collection, surprised this hasn’t been done earlier, nutrient interception.”
researchers are collecting balsam but it really does take dedication and
poplar tree samples from almost fifty commitment over time.”
different locations across Canada. Bill
Schroeder, head of research at AAFC’s In sample locations such as
Agroforestry Centre in Indian Head, northern Quebec, Labrador,
Saskatchewan, formulated the the Northwest Territories and the
“We’re sampling to find the
AgCanBap project to see how altering Yukon; the trees have been found natural diversity of a single
a tree’s natural climatic growing to be very short, but have an
environment would affect its growth. incredible ability to photosynthesize tree species and how it
quickly since they don’t have many
“Most of the collections that have long days of sun exposure.
adapts uniquely to different
followed this approach have been environments.”
done with the precise purpose of “If you move trees from the north
providing genetics for breeding,” to the south,” Schroeder explains,
Schroeder explains. “This was our “they have a hard time adapting to - Dr. Bill Schroeder
Circling the Globe These trees were supplied through the Prairie Shelterbelt Program,
one of the longest running Government of Canada programs. Since
with Trees 1901 the Shelterbelt Centre has been developing and distributing
genetically superior trees and shrubs to farmers for planting
Imagine planting enough trees to on agricultural land in western Canada. The Centre has been
circle the globe 27 times! That is performing tree improvement breeding for over 60 years and is
exactly what farmers in western the longest running tree research program in North America.
Canada have done by planting
600 million trees during the past Today the trees are being bred to adapt to climate change,
hundred years. In a time when to accommodate a growing interest in biodiversity and the
countries are deforesting their environment, to help meet industry demand for bioproducts and
lands, Canada, a land with a biofuels, and to help fulfill an increased demand in tree-related
prosperous lumbering industry, products such as nutraceuticals, wood materials and fibre. Some
recognizes the importance of trees to industry, agriculture and the tree species distributed to farmers through the program include
environment and continues to plant trees for future generations. Scots pine, Colorado spruce, white spruce, caragana, willow,
hybrid poplar, green ash, bur oak, villosa lilac, choke cherry, silver
buffaloberry and sea buckthorn.
Key to an innovative future for Canada
On-farm Biodiversity (cont’d.)
The latest buzz: Bee biodiversity taking a sting
If you’ve ever complained about food and shelter. If the proper plant species. Unlike honey bees, whose City planners can integrate green spaces
there being too many bees around, environments don’t exist for hives can be moved closer to food into their layouts, and farmers can
consider yourself lucky. Pollinators these bees, they cannot survive supplies, native bees must must make enhance or maintain “bee friendly”
– such as bees, butterflies and bats to continue pollinating the plants a living on the resources offered by habitat on their land to promote diverse
– are responsible for the continued they are uniquely responsible for. their local environment. If the land is native bee communities.
existence of more than seventy altered, their food supply and home are
percent of the world’s flowering “When a person is looking for a disturbed, and they’ll either leave or “There were some blueberry farmers
plant population. new house, they consider how easy cease to exist. in eastern Canada that took notice
it will be for them to access the of the declining bees,” Javorek said.
By carrying pollen from the male to things they will need such as the In collaboration with farmers, “They need their blueberries, and
female parts of flowers, pollinators groceries,” Javorek explains. “In one landscapers and the general public, the blueberries need the bees, so they
assist in plant reproduction and thus sense, bees are very much the same pollinator and plant diversity can were really interested in what they
biodiversity. Unfortunately, as a result as us; their “neighbourhood” must be maintained. could do to help.”
of habitat destruction and alteration, include a suitable place to live from
pesticide use, and the introduction of which they can access food and “Simple changes can make a big So next time you’re admiring a garden
diseases, the abundance and diversity of other requirements over the course difference,” Javorek says. full of flowers, or the abundance
pollinators are drastically decreasing. of their life span. The loss of this “Incorporating native flowers and of fresh local produce in the store,
“real estate” limits areas where diverse plants into a family garden not only remember you have pollinators to
Steve Javorek - a research biologist for bee communities can survive. The looks nice, but can offer nesting thank and do your part in saving
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada loss or reduction of bees and their opportunities and a source of nectar these irreplaceable little critters.
is looking specifically at developing pollination services sends ripples and pollen for these critters.”
conservation and restoration throughout the entire ecosystem that
guidelines for landscapes to nurture impact the very sustainability and
the preservation of native bee resilience of the landscape.”
populations in Canada.
Thankfully, researchers are formulating
“Most fruit, vegetables and seed crops realistic management programs for
depend on bees for pollination,” the landscapes that bees and other
Javorek reflects. “No less than pollinators live in.
90 commercially grown food crops
in Canada rely on pollinators. As “Bees are very misunderstood by
we become more disconnected from most people,” Javorek says. “When
where our food comes from, such we think of bees the picture of a hive
things as the role of bees and the with the queen supported by her
implications of their decline fail to workers generally comes to mind.
resonate in our everyday lives.” The vast majority of native bees,
however, are solitary - each female
As keystone species - those which constructs her own nest which she
other species depend on - the provisions with pollen and nectar for
over 700 types of native bees in her young. our only native bees that
Canada have a unique role in form a colony are bumble bees!”
the maintenance of the country’s
biodiversity. They are essential Native bees nest in a wide variety
to the reproductive cycles of most of habitats including soil, wood
flowering plants and thus to the and cavities and, depending on the
ecosystem itself, by supporting species, can pollinate a wide variety
plant populations that other
animals and birds rely on for
of flowers or, in some cases, form an
intricate relationship with a single
“Most fruit, vegetables and
seed crops depend on bees for
pollination. No less than ninety
commercially grown food crops in
Canada rely on pollinators. ”
- Steve Javorek
Canadian Agricultural Biodiversity
Biodiversity - the variety of life on Earth! Scientists at Agriculture and Agri-Food
Canada play a role in protecting and preserving the diversity of our crops
GENEBANKs: NATIONAL COLLECTIONs:
• Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada identifies, collects, preserves and • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada maintains the largest bioresource
encourages the use of crops grown in Canada through the Genebanks reference collections in Canada.
of Plant Gene Resources of Canada. • The Collections of insects, fungi and vascular plants play an essential
• The role of the Genebanks is to provide scientists with a wide role in the development of new crops, bioproducts and biotechnologies
diversity of genetic materials to help them develop new crops for capable of sustaining the long-term quality, yields and profitability of
Canadian farmers with increased yield, better taste, or resistance Canadian agriculture.
to crop pests. • The Collections support national efforts to protect Canada’s borders
from invasive pests.
sEEds FRuITs ANd POTATOEs ANIMAL GERMPLAsM NATIONAL
Seed Genebank, Saskatoon, SK. Canadian Clonal Genebank, Canadian Animal Genetic COLLECTIONs
Harrow, ON, and Potato Genebank, Resources Program, Ottawa, ON.
Fredericton, NB. Saskatoon, SK.
1. 1. 1. 1.
2. 2. 2. 2.
3. 3. 3. 3.
4. 4. 4. 4.
5. 5. 5. 5.
1. Oat: 28,000 samples 1. Apple: 850 samples 1. Cattle: 16 breeds, 1. Insects, Arachnids and
2. Barley: 38,000 samples 2. strawberry: 1,500 samples 249,000 semen doses Nematodes: 16 million specimens
3. Wheat: 14,000 samples 3. Peach: 63 samples 2. Poultry: 3 breeds of chicken 2. National Mycological Herbarium:
4. Flax: 3,500 samples 4. Pear: 130 samples 1 of turkey, 480 semen doses 350,000 specimens
5. Brassicas: 3,500 samples 5. Potato: 140 samples 3. Goat: 36 semen doses 3. Canadian Collection of Fungal
(mustard, canola) 4. Bison: 600 semen doses Cultures: 16,000 living strains
5. Elk, deer: 630 semen doses 4. Vascular Plant Herbarium:
Total collection: over 1,000 plant Total collection: 3,500 samples 1.5 million specimens
species and 113,000 samples 5. Glomeromycota in vitro Collection:
94 living strains of mycorrhiza
For more information visit www.agr.gc.ca