Genome Prairie and Genome Canada announced a $5.1 million project to protect Canada’s wild bison population.
The $5.1 million includes $1.7 million in federal support from Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada, $2.1 million from Parks Canada, and additional support from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
Researchers in Saskatchewan aim to improve bison health and create a genetically diverse bison population.
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“The bison as a species continues to fight,” says Dr. Gregg Adams of the University of Saskatchewan’s Western College of Veterinary Medicine.
The Bison Integrated Genomics (BIG) project is a three-year process aimed at controlling diseases such as tuberculosis and Brucella that are affecting Canada’s wood bison population.
“The (BIG) project has the potential to not only reduce, but potentially eradicate, two major diseases in Canadian wood bison herds, tuberculosis and Brucella,” said Mike Cey, CEO of Genome Prairie.
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As part of the project, Genome Prairie and Genome Canada want to develop a vaccine that fights both diseases at once.
“This will be a novel vaccine specifically designed to reduce prevalence in some of the infected herds in northern Canada, in and around Wood Buffalo National Park,” said Dr. Todd Shury of Parks Canada.
Shury says the vaccine is given orally.
Wood Buffalo National Park is home to more than four thousand bison, and Parks Canada says a large majority need to be vaccinated.
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“We need to protect more than 70 to 80 percent of the population to reduce the prevalence of these two diseases over time,” Shury says.
Bison herds in Canada are typically small and isolated, resulting in a lack of diversity, according to Genome Prairie. The BIG project plans to address the diversity problem by transferring animal genetics.
“My research specifically looked at techniques that allow us to collect semen and embryos so that we can move gametes around embryos rather than around the whole animal,” said Dr. Gregg Adams.
Adams says as long as the bison are affected by these diseases, these genetic tools cannot be used until a successful vaccine is administered to the bison in Wood Buffalo National Park.
https://globalnews.ca/news/8991423/genome-prairie-genome-canada-announce-bison-integrated-genome-project/ Genome Prairie and Genome Canada Announce Bison Integrated Genome Project