The federal government is providing $1.4 million for research at the University of Guelph aimed at protecting bees and improving soil health.
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) awarded Strategic Partnership Grants to Prof. Rod Merrill, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Prof. Claudia Wagner-Riddle, School of Environmental Sciences.
The announcement was made Wednesday in Ottawa by Kirsty Duncan, minister of science.
In total, 94 grants worth $50 million were awarded.
They support early-stage research expected to enhance Canada’s economy, society or the environment in the next decade.
Merrill will use his three-year, $810,000 grant to develop natural products into agents to treat deadly diseases in honeybees, including bacteria-borne American foulbrood and parasitic mite infections.
Since 2006, North American and European beekeepers have lost about one-third of their colonies every year.
Although colony losses remain largely unexplained, many experts believe stress on honeybees makes them more vulnerable to disease.
Wagner-Riddle will use a $614,353 grant to help improve soil quality. She will look at cropping practices that mimic natural ecosystems and improve resiliency to climate change.
Wagner-Riddle’s research team will compare conventional and perennialized annual cropping systems (where the soil is never left unseeded) using corn, winter wheat and soybeans.
Researchers from three U of G departments are involved, as well as scientists from the University of Saskatchewan, Western University and the University of Toronto.
“These are new collaborations and we are very excited about the research we will conduct over the next three years,” Wagner-Riddle said. “Each researcher brings a unique perspective and expertise to this very important topic.”