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Flax and biofuels projects attract $ 1.7M in funding


Winnipeg, MB – Genome Prairie project, the Microbial Genomics for Biofuels and Co-Products from Biorefining Processes (MGB2), has received $1.3 million in funding, and another Genome Prairie project, Total Utilization of Flax Genomics (TUFGEN), has received $375,000 in funding, both from Manitoba’s provincial government.

Most of the research for the MCGB2 project is based in Winnipeg at the University of Manitoba. Drs Richard Sparling and David Levin are lead researchers for the project. Other researchers involved are Drs Wilkins, Fristensky and Krokhin. The project also involves researchers in microbiology, biochemistry, genomics, bioinformatics, proteomics, and engineering from across Canada, the United States, and New Zealand. The International Institute for Sustainable Development in Winnipeg is also a funding partner for the project.

“The University of Manitoba is pleased to lead these Genome Prairie projects,” said Dr Digvir Jayas, vice president (research) at the University of Manitoba. “By using agricultural feedstocks as a source of alternative energy, we can reduce product waste and maximize uses for plants. The flax research project’s goal to develop flax as a dualpurpose crop and to sequence the flax genome, is an invaluable contribution to flax research.”

Dr Sylvie Cloutier from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), and an adjunct professor at the U of M, co-leads the TUFGEN project which aims to increase the value of flax for producers. Manitoba-based research for this project takes place at the Manitoba AAFC facility and involves Dr Scott Duguid. Province of Saskatchewan funding for TUGEN will be announced later this month.

“Genomics research is becoming more and more important in the areas of energy and agriculture research. We are pleased to receive the province’s support for these projects which have the potential to help transform the biofuels and flax industries,” commented Dr Wilf Keller, President and CEO of Genome Prairie.

Both Genome Prairie projects are supported by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture. Saskatchewan government funding will be announced on October 23, 2009 in Saskatoon.