VANCOUVER -- A $2.43 million research project will develop DNA biosurveillance tools to detect invasive species such as the Asian gypsy moth and a plant pathogen that causes Sudden Oak Death and protect Canada's forestry and lumber industries.

Biosurveillance Efforts Aim to Protect Canadian Forestry IndustryThe project, funded in part by Genome BC, is aimed at protecting more than 400 million hectares of forests. Invasive species damaging forested areas are responsible for the loss of approximately$90 million annually. Forestry-related industries account for 9.2 percent of Canada’s gross domestic product.

In addition to deploying genome research against the invasive species, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has a mandate to enforce regulations requiring foreign trading partners to ensure shipments to Canada are free of invasive species.

“The introduction of DNA based tools in standard monitoring protocols could accelerate the access of authoritative diagnostic information, aiding decision making for risk assessment and minimizing foreign threats to Canadian forests and trees,” says Dr. Richard Hamelin, a professor in the Department of Forest Sciences at the University of British Columbia. “Establishing a link to origin is crucial to prove scientifically the source of pests and genomics can do that."

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.