Next Generation Solutions to Ensure Healthy Water Resources for Future Generations

PI: John Giesy, Canada Research Chair in Environmental Toxicology, University of Saskatchewan, and Fellow of the Royal Society Canada

The Problem: In a rapidly changing world, regulators, scientists and local communities face significant challenges in meeting their mandate to protect aquatic ecosystems, predict future trajectories for them, and foster sustainable development. This is particularly important when it comes to understanding, monitoring and predicting living organisms (including invasive species) in the aquatic environment.

The Plan: Emerging and transformative technologies in biology and bioinformatics provide new capability to address urgent environmental needs. Environmental DNA (eDNA) and next generation sequencing (NGS) methods will be applied to monitor current status and predict future trends of the structures and functions of aquatic ecosystems exposed to stressors in Canada. Together these technologies have the potential to provide more rapid, comprehensive, and objective assessments of ecosystem status, including the presence of rare and endangered species, in real time, while reducing costs.

The Outcome: This research program will provide end-users with new tools for assessing effects of environmental stressors, both natural and those caused by humans, such as changes in land use, climate, agricultural runoff and wastewater influents. This will be a critical improvement in current risk management strategies for invasive species, as one of the main factors in successful management of the threat of spreading of such species is their early detection.