Application of Actigate Targeted Performance Technology for the Treatment of Wheat Rust

Fungal rust infection of wheat is an ongoing problem in Canada and use of commercial fungicides is increasing while the problem of fungicidal resistance is also arising. This project aims to develop optimized fungicidal treatments for fungal rust infection of wheat. The issue of inefficient penetration of commercial fungicides will be addressed by applying a specific technology to enhance delivery of the active ingredient to target fungal pathogens thereby reducing the dose of fungicidal application. The mechanism of action of the resulting fungicidal formulations will also be explored.

Computational Biochemistry Platform for Crop Health

The global population is rising, generating a need to produce more food to feed the world. Along with climate change, the food crops across the world are facing growing challenges from pests, pathogens and viruses that attack and destroy crops. In Canada, we export more than $7 billion worth of wheat every year. The Terramera-led Computational Biochemistry Platform project is tackling this crop loss with a research consortium bringing together 9 companies and research organizations. Simon Fraser University is an integral part of the consortium.

Natural products for Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) pest management

Spotted Wing Drosophila is an aggressive invasive pest that is high research and management priority for the BC and Canadian berry and small fruit industry. Spotted Wing Drosophila can substantially reduce crop yields despite heavy uses of chemical insecticides, which in some cases can be harmful to the environment and human health. Botanical extracts from plants and insecticidal microbes that are naturally toxic to insects have great potential to provide enviromentally-friendly options for growers to manage Spotted Wing Drosophila.

Using beneficial microbes to mitigate the effects of climate change on plant nutrition, resistance to insects, and drought

Climate change has major present-day and anticipated consequences for Canadian and global food security. Increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) levels can lead to decreased plant nutritional quality: more fixed carbon and sugar means that plants have less protein and micronutrients per gram. Additionally, increased CO2 levels can exacerbate insect pests on crops because elevated CO2 interferes with plant signalling and suppresses plants' ability to respond to stressors.

High-throughput phenotyping of plant health using machine learning and computer vision

Phenotyping is used to develop new strains of plants, understand plant-affecting diseases (phyto-pathology) and evaluate the effects of various substances on plants. A growing variety of sensors and sensor technology is used to gather data used for phenotyping, in a non-destructive manner, and this overall process of data acquisition and analysis is being automated, leading to high-throughput pheno-typing. These technological changes pose challenges both in terms of which models to apply to these heterogeneous data, as well as the scalability of the data and analytics pipeline.

Evaluate effect of chemical compounds on plants using statistics and machine learning

To understand the effects of various substances on plants in terms of yield and disease severity (phytopathology), we need to evaluate both statistical significance and biological relevance when conducting biological experiments. Biological relevance refers to the nature and size of biological changes or differences seen in studies that would be considered relevant, while Statistically significance is the likelihood that a relationship between two or more variables is caused by something other than chance.

Compound recommendation for plant health using machine learning and computational chemistry

Virtual screening is a computational technique used in drug discovery to search large libraries of small molecules in order to identify those structures which are most likely to bind to a drug target, typically a protein receptor or enzyme. Virtual screening is thought to have the potential to speed the rate of discovery by reducing the need for expensive and time-consuming lab tests to physically test thousands of diverse compounds, often with an expected hit rate on the order of 1% or less with still fewer expected to be real leads following further testing.

Identification of gene expression biomarkers for different biotic stress conditions in Arabidopsis thaliana and canola

Plants, like humans, sometimes get sick because of the activities of pathogens. When crops are diseased, their growth vigor will be severely damaged, leading to tremendous yield loss. To cure plant disease, farmers have been relying on synthetic pesticides for centuries; but the over-use of synthetic pesticides has caused pest resistance and serious environmental issues. To overcome this dilemma, companies like Terramera Inc. have been developing alternative powerful pest-managing products, namely biopesticides, which are eco-friendly bioactive agents derived from natural resources.

Evaluation of botanical extract formulations for greenhouse pest management

The development of additional pesticides which minimize negative effects on the environment and beneficial insects is imperative for successful long-term management and enhanced sustainability of agricultural systems. Utilizing plant based essential oils, which generally have low toxicity to humans and other mammals, could increase sustainable pest management options.

Testing plant-derived products as biopesticides for plant pathogen management

Like humans and other animals, plants also get sick, exhibit disease symptoms, and even die. Over the past 100 years, farmers have heavily relied upon chemical fertilizers and pesticides in order to increase crop productivity and quality. However, the environmental pollution caused by excessive use and misuse of agrochemicals has led to considerable changes in people’s attitudes towards the use of pesticides in agriculture.