Dietary mercury and declining Leach’s storm-petrel numbers: toxicological and spatial implications

Leach’s storm-petrels are tiny, iconic seabirds found from the Bay of Fundy through Labrador in eastern Canada, and forage hundreds of kilometres offshore. Numbers of birds at some colonies have declined by >30% over the past two decades; the reason for these declines remain very unclear. Among the possible factors thought to be negatively influencing storm-petrels is mercury (Hg), a neurotoxic element that some studies have shown is high in this species.

Discovering new microbes and metabolisms in deep sea sediments using metagenomic sequencing

Microorganisms living in marine seafloor sediments are of scientific interest for many reasons including their role in cycling nutrients, their metabolic diversity, and the relatively few investigations of their existence due to their habitation of such an extreme and isolated environment. In addition, subsurface microbes can provide insight into their surrounding environment, including signalling the presence of hydrocarbon seeps.

Characterizing Offshore Lobster Biology and Estimating Tag Recaptures and Reporting Rates in Lobster Fishing Areas 33 and 34

Little information is known about offshore lobster. Knowledge gaps exist in general population demographics, maturity rates, and movement patterns (migrations). Most notably, nothing is known about offshore lobster in this region especially during the closed season. This project will form a collaboration between captains and their crews and researchers to collect data on the offshore fishery. The primary project goal is to ensure a healthy, viable, and sustainable fishery.

Characterization and behavioural studies on Psilocybe mushrooms and related psychotropic compounds

This MITACs proposal seeks funding to establish an internship cluster dedicated to researching novel psychedelic compounds for the purposes of treating clients suffering from PTSD and anxiety using its comprehensive psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy treatment model. The objective of this one-year project is to characterize the chemical composition of psychedelic mushrooms, optimizing extraction process, testing extracts and active compounds on insect model, in order to advance the science around the use of psilocybin in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy.

Assessment of the feasibility of manufacturing and marketing carvacrol-incorporated natural health products

Antibiotic therapy has been the primary approach for strep throat. Although various antibiotics, including penicillin, are effective, bacteriologic, and clinical treatment failures have been reported. Patients are more concerned about soothing the pain during the infection, and green/natural drug therapy with less or no adverse side effects are becoming popular. From preliminary studies and literature, carvacrol has been identified as a potential candidate for antibiotic therapy alternatives.

Using soil nematodes as indicators of soil health in wet meadow rangelands

Grasslands store carbon, regulate water, recycle nutrients, and conserve biodiversity. In western Canada, seasonally flooded, wet meadow grasslands, also provide habitats for species at risk. Despite their importance to conservation, little is known about the effect of grazing on these ecosystems. This research will help understand how grazing effects plants, soils, and the ecosystem services provided by wet meadow grasslands. Specifically, this project will explore links between grazing, plants, and soil nematodes, small worm-like animals, that recycle carbon and nutrients in soils.

Wastewater Surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in Nova Scotia

Although COVID-19 is considered a respiratory illness, the genetic material of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has been found in the feces of people infected with the virus. It is known that the virus survives longer in the gastrointestinal tract than in the respiratory tract. As such, wastewater has been used to determine the presence of the virus either before someone develops symptoms; receives a positive test result; or is an asymptomatic carrier of the virus.

Effects of human and natural habitat factors on wolverine density and connectivity

In southern Canada, wolverines share their natural habitat with humans. Forestry, for example, alters local ecosystems and leaves behind road networks that give access to people, also including recreationalists. Finally, many valley bottoms contain human infrastructure. This research project examines if wolverine numbers are impacted more by human or natural factors, determines if population connectivity is interrupted by human infrastructure and asks if those patterns are different for reproductive females.

Identifying and quantifying entrained larval fishes using eDNA and metabarcoding

Monitoring biodiversity using DNA-based approaches has many advantages for large-scale studies. DNA metabarcoding can assess the presence, absence, and abundance of species in a sample where individuals are not morphologically identifiable, such as bulk samples of larval fishes or from environmental DNA (eDNA) in water samples. We propose to develop a high-throughput metabarcoding-based approach that will quantify fishes entrained by the water-cooling system at Bruce Power.

Explorations into the mechanism and potential of the antiviral activity of BOLD-100 as a treatment for COVID-19

BOLD-100 is a promising new drug that initial studies have shown has potent activity against the SARS-CoV-2 (the cause of COVID-19) in cell culture experiments. Before being able to start clinical studies with BOLD-100, additional research into the mechanism of action is required, plus testing the safety and efficacy of BOLD-100 in animal models of COVID-19. The purpose of this project is to utilize a range of cell culture and animal models to test BOLD-100 against COVID-19 to better understand the drug.

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