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Short Abstracts of Invited Speakers

Canadian Society of Agronomy (CSA)
Canadian Society for Horticultural Science (CSHS)
Canadian Botanical Association (CBA)
Canadian Society of Plant Physiologists (CSPP)
Canadian Weed Science Society (CWSS)

Canadian Phytopathological Society (CPS)
Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology (CIFST)-CSHS Joint Session
CIFST Atlantic Section - CSA Joint Session
CSA - Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada (OACC) Joint Session

Plenary Speakers


1. What's With The Weather

Mr. David Phillips, Senior Climatologist, Environment Canada

People all over are asking: What's happening to the weather?  It's almost as if extreme weather has become the norm - an epidemic of ferocious, killer, catastrophic weather everywhere. Further, the seasons seem to be out of whack, certainly not what our teachers and parents told us it would be like. 

Is the global climate going through unprecedented change?  Is our weather becoming more extreme? And, if so, are people responsible or is it external forces? Or both?  Some experts suggest that we may be witnessing the beginning of a profound climate change and bad weather may be proof of an overheated, out-of-control planet.

There is so much we don't know about the Earth's climate system. But what has become clear is that the planet is warming and the number of weather-related disasters is on the rise.  We can no longer assume that conditions in the past will apply in the future.  Coping with more variable and uncertain weather will take more ingenuity and adaptability – something Canadians are good at. We also should expect more accurate, timely and credible long-lead weather forecasts.

 Top Paul Bullock

2. Climate Change Impacts on Crop Production in Canada: Are We Heading Up or Down?

Dr. Paul Bullock, Department of Soil Science, University of Manitoba

Climate change has been cited as a concern for future crop production but in Canada there are also some potential benefits. Do the positive impacts of climate change on crop productivity outweigh the negative impacts? Are secondary impacts of climate change more important? Is the weak link in our predictions related to our limited understanding of the interactions of all these effects? This presentation will focus on the current state of our knowledge to help us identify the gaps and better answer these critical questions.


Society Invited Speakers

Canadian Society of Agronomy (CSA)

 C. Madramootoo

1. Water Resources and Climate Change


Dr. Chandra A. Madramootoo, P.Eng; Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, McGill University


The work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and several researchers has pointed to the fact that there are likely to be increases in both precipitation intensity and variability, thus increasing the risks of both flooding and drought in many parts of the world. This will have an impact on food production since both climatic extremes will limit the full potential of our food producing lands. Such impacts will force those involved in water for food production to explore methods of water management that conserve water, as well as mitigate flood damages. With irrigated agriculture producing some 40% of the world’s food, and the need to double food production by the year 2050, there is going to be severe competition for limited water supplies. New irrigation techniques which make better use of advanced soil water monitoring, management and application technologies will, therefore, need to be developed if food security is to be achieved.



C. Hamal2. Arbuscular mycorrhiza in a sustainable world

Dr. Chantal Hamel, Semiarid Prairie Agricultural Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Saskatchewan

Sustainable cropping systems will be nutrient and energy efficient. They will favor the close cycling of nutrients in the soil-plant-consumer systems and maintain the capacity of the soil resources. Phosphorus management appears as a particular challenge on this background. The arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) increase the synchrony between P mobilization and crop P demand, and improve the ability of crop plants to extract this nutrient from diluted soil solutions and fixation sites. The arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis can be managed through cropping practices favoring mycorrhizal efficiency and using inoculants. This topic will be reviewed and possible avenues for improving the contribution of the AM symbiosis to sustainability, such as plant breeding, and the manipulation of microbial interactions and plant-AMF signaling will also be presented.


Rong3. Phytochemical Antioxidants in Healthy Canadian Crops – the Good, the Better, & the Best!

Dr. Rong Tsao, Guelph Food Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Healthy lifestyle and good dietary habit can significantly lower the risk of many chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. While essential nutrients are important in maintaining good health, in recent years, non-essential components of plant foods, i.e. phytochemicals, have been recognised as playing significant roles in preventing chronic diseases, particularly those related to oxidative stress. In this presentation, I will discuss the antioxidant phytochemicals in several unique Canadian seed crops e.g., flax, soybean and oat, and anthocyanin-rich fruits and vegetables, and how antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activities can be enhanced by optimising agronomic and food processing conditions.


J Lynch4. Roots of the Second Green Revolution

Dr. Jonathan Lynch, Plant Nutrition, The Pennsylvania State University, PA, USA

Drought and low soil fertility are primary constraints to food production in poor nations. The ‘green revolution’ of intensive fertilizer use coupled with fertilizer-responsive varieties has not reached the poorest nations, and is not an economically viable strategy for the foreseeable future. What is needed is a ‘second green revolution’ that improves crop yields without requiring intensive inputs. In recent years a number of root traits have been identified that improve crop adaptation to drought and low soil fertility. In this presentation I will review these traits, their genetic control, their use in crop breeding programs, and their agroecological and socioeconomic effects in rural communities in developing countries.


5. Sustainability and integrity of organic farming in a global food chains perspective

Dr. Niels Halberg, Director, International Centre for Organic Food Systems, Denmark

Demand for organic food has increased significantly in Europe and North America and consumers are being exposed to an increasing number of imported organic foods, some of which could be substituted by similar locally produced conventional food items. Even though demand is partly driven by altruistic motives it is difficult for consumers and traders to know what development they support if they buy "global organic food" in terms of e.g. environmental impact and possible improvements in poor farmers’ livelihoods? Studies of certified cash crop production for export in Asia and Latin America show that there are environmental benefits of, for example, organic soybeans and oranges compared with conventional (reduction in emissions, absence of pesticides, biodiversity) but also that agro-ecological methods are not always used extensively and that organic ideas and principles are not always employed by the local farmers. Life cycle assessments of environmental impacts accumulated along the food chain showed that transport-related emissions contribute a significant part of climate impact of these products. Livelihood benefits for smallholder farmers becoming part of high value chains may be significant but there are important obstacles for their inclusion in global value chains.


R_Hijmans6. Plant Biodiversity and Climate Change in Agricultural Landscapes

Dr. Robert J. Hijmans, Environmental Science and Policy, University of California, Davis, USA

Over the past 75 years, there has been an extraordinary and steady increase in crop productivity. It has been predicted that this trend will change because of climate change, unless major research and development efforts are put in place. The use of wild and cultivated plant biodiversity for crop improvement is a key adaptation strategy. I will discuss where and what adaptation is most needed, and where crop improvement is likely to be successful based on what we know about plant physiology, past varietal change, and the management of agricultural biodiversity by farmers. I will also speak about the potential repercussions of failing to maintain stable growth in agricultural productivity for the conservation of wild and cultivated plants.


Igor7. Role of plant breeding in adaptation of plants to the changing environment – canola model

Mr. Igor Falak, Canola R&ScholarOne ManuscriptsD, Pioneer Hi-Bred Production LP, Caledon, ON

Canola is Canada’s “Cinderella crop” that has emerged through extensive breeding efforts.  From quality improvements and herbicide tolerance to hybrid adoption, canola has evolved into a stable, high-yielding crop.  Extensive breeding work is underway to further utilize genetic variability and improve yield stability under changing environmental conditions.  Wet environments and long-term population breeding were used to develop Sclerotinia resistant hybrids that reduce yield losses from this constant disease threat in western Canada.  Breeding materials and experimental hybrids are being tested in a range of stressful environments occurring across the Canadian prairies, from water-logging to drought and cold, with the goal of improving stress-tolerance.


8. Crop adaptation to abiotic stression to abiotic stress

Rosalind (Ball) Bueckert

More than half of Canada’s crop production comes from western Canada, a region that experiences short growing seasons characterized by temperature and moisture stress.   Historically the region was dominated by temperate cereal production, but in recent decades crops have included canola and pulses.  Crops from this region have superior quality profiles, and some cultivars have become dominant in global crop exports.  Here we will describe weather events and the resulting abiotic stresses that are common in prairie crop production, and show case how specific cultivars have been successfully adapted.  We will also examine current strategies to improve crop performance in a warming climate.


Todd9. The Implication of Climate Change for the Canadian Seed Industry

Todd Hyra, SeCan Business Manager Western Canada, Winnipeg Manitoba

SeCan is national not-for-profit seed distribution association that sources and markets varieties across Canada though a network of over 750 member companies.  The majority of members are farmer seed producers who grow seed, process, and sell direct to farm customers.  The key to their future is providing products that will make their customers more profitable. In his presentation, Todd will review some practical approaches that have proven successful in adapting to changes over the past several years. He will provide thoughts on what is needed to ensure we have a healthy, competitive agricultural industry – one that will allow Canada to continue playing a key role in feeding a growing global population.

Yousef10. Recent advances in the development of crop cultivars for adaptation to changing environmental conditions

Yousef Papadopoulos, AAFC, Truro, NS

Extreme fluctuations in environmental conditions have been attributed to global warming. Predicted fluctuations in air temperature during the growing season and winter are anticipated to affect the performance and sustainability of field crops in Canada.  This presentation will highlight the strategies used in crop breeding programs to address the challenges and opportunities associated with the predicted environmental changes.  With input from coauthors, this presentation will highlight advances in the breeding programs of corn, cereal and forage crops that have successfully incorporated traits to ameliorate the impact of climate change.  


KVessey11. Crop-Based Biofuel Feedstock Potential in Atlantic Canada - Nova Scotia Model

Dr. J. Kevin Vessey, Department of Biology, Saint Mary’s University

An estimated 100,000 acres of abandoned, “inactive” farmland currently exists in Nova Scotia. This land represents a great opportunity for cultivation of biofuel feedstock crops without encountering the “food versus fuel” debate. Potential biofuel feedstock crops include biomass grasses (e.g. Switch grass, Reed Canary grass), agro-forestry crops (e.g. hybrid poplar, willow), and convention sugar (e.g. sugar beet) and oil seed crops (e.g. soybean and canola). While great potential exists for cultivation of crop-based biofuel feedstocks in the Province, forestry and marine-based feedstock has been the primary focus to date.


12. Are Organic Farms Different? A Canadian Perspective

Dr. Derek Lynch, Nova Scotia Agricultural College, Truro, NS

The overreaching goal of the Canadian organic standards is to develop farm enterprises that are ‘‘sustainable and harmonious with the environment’’. But do organic farms achieve these goals? Are the cropping systems and rotations, soil management practices and intensity of nutrient use, energy and pesticide use, floral and habitat diversity etc. on organic farms sufficiently distinct as to impart measurable and important environmental and/or ecological benefits? Synthesizing results of primarily Canadian research, Derek will present the case that the specific attributes of organic farms themselves should perhaps be considered as valuable to society as the agricultural products of these enterprises. Organic agriculture may thus offer an innovative and more holistic approach to the traditional concept of ‘value added’ in agriculture.


13. Genotype and environment influence GABA concentration in short-season soybean

Malcolm J. Morrison, Judith R. Fregeau-Reid, Elroy R. Cober, Ottawa, ON.

 Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a four carbon, non-protein amino acid found in most life forms on the planet.  The metabolic function of GABA in plants is still under investigation.  In humans, GABA is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain but there is no evidence that its consumption can affect the brain.  There is clinical proof that the consumption of GABA reduces high blood pressure in humans.  It is estimated that up to 30% of the population in most countries have high blood pressure.  Soy foods, such as tofu, soymilk, tempeh, natto, and miso are easily obtainable and their consumption could be a method for a portion of the population to lower their blood pressure.  Our objective was to determine if there were genotypic and/or environmental influences on the concentration of GABA in short-season soybean cultivars.  Sixteen cultivars, representing 71 years of short-season plant breeding progress (1934 to 2003), were grown in a randomized complete block design with 4 replications at the Central Experimental Farm, Ottawa, ON using appropriate agronomic and cultural practice.  When ripe, seed was harvested, and cleaned for yield and seed weight determination.  A sample retained for protein, oil, and GABA determination.  Protein and oil were analysed by NIR while GABA was determined using a gas chromatograph.  There were significant cultivar, year, and cultivar x year interactions for all characters examined.  The year affect and cultivar x year interaction indicates that the environment influences these traits and changes the cultivar rank order to some extent.  There was a 3 fold difference in GABA concentration between cultivar extremes.  Plotting the year of cultivar release (YOR) against the trait showed that yield, and oil have increased with plant breeding while protein and GABA concentration have decreased.  These results will form the basis of a breeding program to increase GABA concentration in food grade soybean.    


Canadian Society for Horticultural Science (CSHS)

Walther Faedi1. Berry Production in Forced Culture

Davide Neri, Dept. of Environment and Crop Science – Università Politecnica delle Marche, 60131  Ancona, Italy d.neri@univpm.it 


The production of berries by forcing is increasing in Europe. The most cultivated berries for the fresh market are strawberry and raspberry. In the past, forcing techniques were aimed at increasing the earliness of June-bearing strawberry varieties. However, nowadays the purpose is to have a year-round production, preserving berry crops against unfavourable climatic conditions. Different forcing techniques, both in the nursery and in the greenhouse, will be analyzed; as well, their physiological effects on plant architecture and fruit quality will be discussed.



Jean-Pierre Privé2. Agro-Ecosystem Approach to Understanding Environmental Stress in Fruit and Vegetable Production

Dr. Jean-Pierre Privé, Senator H.J. Michaud Research Farm, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Bouctouche

The objective of new agro-ecosystems for the production of high value horticultural field crops is to improve their growing environment, thereby reducing the various stresses and challenges from the inclement weather. A major trend in production throughout the northern hemisphere is the use of some form of physical protection for the crop and can range from temporary row covers to high tunnels. Plants and fruits produced within these new agro-ecosystems may provide a more environmentally durable ecosystem with the concomitant reduction in exposure to certain pathogens and an increase in marketable fruit and vegetable quality. An integrated, multidisciplinary systems approach to studying the effects of protected structures on the interaction of three trophic webs (plant, disease and insect) will be presented.


Ralph C. Martin3. Organic Agriculture: Contributions to Sustainable Horticulture

Dr. Ralph C. Martin, Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada

The vision of the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada is to have sustainable and science-based organic agricultural systems supporting healthy Canadian communities. With this direction and with input from over 600 organic producers across Canada and substantial funding commitments from industry partners, the Organic Science Cluster was proposed. First year results from these projects are based on research in organic greenhouse fertility management and energy efficiency, organic vegetable nutrition, pest control, seedling and transplant optimization and high value fruit production pest control and season extension. Organic production is assessed in the context of healthy food, profitability, resilient production units and conserving air, water, soil, N, P and biodiversity in a period of declining fossil fuels, climate change and economic instability. Consideration is given to reducing waste along the value chain, the accessibility and affordability of healthy food and appropriate diets for a healthy lifestyle. The principle of excellent agronomy and horticultural practice rather than substituting conventional inputs is also explored. The goal of eating well in sustainable communities is compared and contrasted with the goal of feeding the world.      


Canadian Botanical Association (CBA)


 Lyn_Baldwin.jpg1. BOTANY with a Dash of SOTL--Improving Undergraduate Botany Curriculum Using the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Dr. Lyn Baldwin, Department of Biological Sciences, Thompson Rivers University

 The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL) investigates teaching and student learning through observation, reflection, and hypothesis testing.  Relatively few botany faculties have been trained in the specifics of SOTL, yet a national network of plant biologists represents a unique opportunity to investigate the key questions we face in our teaching.  In this session, I will describe the SOTL projects I am investigating — one on the use of drawing as a learning tool in botany laboratories and one on how to improve undergraduate writing skills.  Participants will be invited to identify the critical questions in the teaching of plant biology and the role that a national collaboration of plant biologists could play in addressing these questions.


2. Teaching and Evaluating Scientific Writing

Dr. John Markham, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Manitoba

Proper science education requires students to acquire a number of communication skills. One of the most important of these is written communication. Traditionally, the focus in teaching science writing has been in having students write lab reports and essays. Anecdotally, it seems that that the amount of writing in undergraduate programs has been decreasing but there are no statistics available to verify this.  I will be presenting the results of a survey of trends in student writing in biology programs across the country. The survey addresses the quantity and variety of writing students are involved in, and gauges how these trends have changed over the last decade.


3. Lichens and Allied Fungi of Old Wet Cedar (Thuja occidentalis) Forests in Northeastern North America: Indicators of Environmental Change

Dr. Stephen R. Clayden, New Brunswick Museum, Saint John

Old wet Thuja occidentalis forests in the Maritime Provinces and northern Maine harbour an exceptional diversity of lichens and allied fungi. Investigations of such stands in these areas over the past several years have documented about 350 species. Many of these were previously unknown in eastern Canada, and several are as yet undescribed. Strong gradients of species composition are present across the region, with distinct assemblages in southern-coastal, central-interior, and northern areas. The coastal forests have a reduced representation of cyanolichens, possibly a result of the effects of acid precipitation, including acid fog.


4. Decomposition of Moss by Filamentous Fungi and Its Potential Role in Arctic/Alpine Pedogenesis

Melissa Day, University of Alberta

After glacial retreat, the first plant colonisers are bryophytes, which form organic grout between large rocks. This grout acts as an entrapment area, collecting any organic matter, chytrids, algae, pollen, and rocks that pass through in the water, and binding them together into the first soil. These mosses, like the plant roots in later stages, are heavily colonised by filamentous fungi. The ascomycetous fungi present are capable of breaking down the outer layer of the moss, causing it to disarticulate. These fragments are bound up in the moss gametophytes and add organic material to the developing soil.


5. The Blue-stain Fungi of Manitoba and NW Ontario

Georg Hausner, University of Manitoba

Species of Ophiostoma and its mitotic counterparts (asexual species of Leptographium, Pesotum, Hyalorhinocladiella etc.) are of interest as these fungi include many insect-vectored forest pathogens (e.g., Dutch Elm disease) and so-called blue-stain fungi. These fungi cause economic losses by staining lumber and therefore making it less desirable for high-end usage and export, and Canada could even be facing trade embargoes for stained wood products/lumber. In recent years, several reports have been published suggesting that blue-stain fungi are being introduced into Canada by importing products shipped in or on wooden crates or palletes. Also potentially due to climate change, insects that vector these fungi appear to be spreading northward bringing along their fungal associates (e.g., Mountain Pine beetle). This also introduces new fungal species into Canada potentially threatening some of our tree species and adding more blue-stain fungi that can stain lumber to our forests. In the past we have periodically surveyed Manitoba and NW Ontario for blue-stain fungi looking for evidence that new species (exotics) have been introduced into Canada.


McMullin6. Monitoring Ecological Integrity and Air Quality with Lichens at Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site

R. Troy McMullin, University of Guelph

Arboreal lichens are well-established bioindicators and have been used globally to monitor air pollution. Since 2006, a protocol for using arboreal lichens to monitor ecological integrity and air quality has been under development for Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site in Nova Scotia, Canada. Measures for monitoring the status and trends of lichens in the Park include: lichen species richness, using 50 field identifiable lichen species; and an index of air purity, based on a suite of predetermined pollution-intolerant lichen species. Baseline data has been gathered, but trends cannot be observed until the next year of data collection (2012).  


7. Effects of Environmental Change on Lichen Fungi

Brinda Timsina and Michele Piercey-Normore, University of Manitoba

Observations in nature suggest that fungal plasticity allows for adaptation to changing environments. Effects of changing environments on lichen fungi may be examined by combinations of symbiotic partners in lichen associations, or by correlations between substrate/media conditions and fungal phenotype. Strategies of algal sharing among lichen fungi will be described that may allow the fungus to adapt to different habitats. Preliminary results from experimental manipulation of fungi in culture will also be described with respect to changes in secondary metabolite production by fungi grown on media with varied nutrient compositions. Both examples illustrate how different habitat conditions may affect phenotype in lichens and implications are made on the effects of a changing environment on lichen fungi.


8. Assessing Climate Change Impacts on Traditional Plants and Species at Risk in Coastal Regions

Dr. Liette Vasseur, Brock University

In Atlantic Canada, most communities live within the coastal zone where climate change, mainly sea level rise and storm surges, will impact on their environment. First Nations, and especially the Mi’kmaq communities of the New Brunswick like Elsipogtog, already have to deal with the sustainability of traditions and the use of natural resources, such as traditional foods and medicines found in salt marshes. Using projection model and digital elevation models, this research examined how climate change might affect some of the traditional species, such as sweetgrass (Hieriochloe odorata), that have been traditionally used by the Mi’kmaq.


Christopher Lortie, 9. Cushions and climate change in Canada

Dr. Christopher Lortie, York University

Climate change will impact Northern Canada even more dramatically in the next 10-20 years. A key player in the dynamics of communities in both the warming tundra and the rapidly changing alpine are the plant species that hold the plant communities together and provide structure for other organisms.  Cushion-forming plant species or cushion plants are ubiquitous in the alpine, globally distributed, and also present in the tundra throughout many northern regions. Hence, cushion plants can provide the means to assess climate change as an indicator species both in terms of their potential keystone effects on other plant species, invertebrates, and pollinators and in terms of their responses to a changing climate. Here, preliminary research is described exploring the capacity for these species to mitigate climate change effects in Canada.


10. Using Posters to Assess Critical-thinking Skills in a Large Class

Dr. Frédérique Guinel, Wilfrid Laurier University

As time passed, Frédérique came to realize that one of the biggest problems of undergraduate students was their poor communication skills - oral but especially written. In every one of her classes, she has made her students write. This characteristic of hers has made her students (and sometimes colleagues) consider her strange. Early on she teamed up with the Director of the Writing Centre at Laurier and together they brought to the classroom writing exercises, writing assignments, and writing groups. Dr. Guinel is a true believer that writing and logic go hand in hand; one will improve the other and vice-versa. So writing is an amazing tool that brings a lot to the students.


F_Baerlocher.jpg11. Research on aquatic hyphomycetes in a changing world

Dr. Felix Baerlocher, Mount Allison University

Aquatic hyphomycetes are a polyphyletic group of stream fungi. They enrich autumn-shed leaves with proteins, lipids and exoenzymes. This conditions the leaves for consumption by stream invertebrates. Much of the research has been process-oriented, partly due to the difficulty of identifying fungal mycelia in the opaque leaf matrix. Molecular techniques (PCR) have greatly expanded the range of accessible information, and have consistently revealed the presence of other fungal groups (Zygomycetes, zoosporic fungi). Global change is predicted to increase CO2 levels, the average temperature and its variability. These changes will have direct and indirect (via plants, consumers) effects on diversity and functions of stream fungi.


Andrew Trant.jpg12. Treeline Ecology: Fast Changing, Slow Growing and a Little Disturbing

Andrew Trant, Memorial University of Newfoundland

With significant changes in climate being observed in sub-arctic and arctic regions, the general sentiment is that trees and shrubs are advancing poleward, replacing the tundra. In work focused in Labrador, complimented by circumpolar collaborations, questions of treeline expansion and persistence will be explored both mechanistically and anecdotally. Using tree rings, ecological stories will be told about past fire and insect disturbance, treeline expansion, carbon storage and climate-growth relationships. In addition, the use of tree rings and forest ecology in exploring issues of climate change in northern communities will be discussed.


Canadian Society of Plant Physiologists (CSPP)

Jonathan Newman 1. Mission Accomplished or Mission Impossible: Predicting the Biological Impacts of Climate Change

Dr. Jonathan Newman, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph

Society asks biologists to predict the impacts of climate change so that decisions can be taken as to how much mitigation is needed, and how fast that mitigation must take place. Biologists have responded to this challenge with gusto. In the past 20 years there have been nearly 60,000 publications on climate change with the rate increasing exponentially. Nevertheless, some very real methodological and conceptual limitations exist on our abilities to make meaningful predictions about the biological impacts of climate change. In this presentation I will highlight the most important of these limitations to help put our achievements in this field of research into perspective, and I will suggest changes in our research agenda for overcoming these limitations.


Sally N. Aitken2. Adapting Forest Genetic Resource Management to Climate Change

Dr. Sally N. Aitken, Department of Forest Sciences, University of British Columbia

Climate change is already changing the face of Canadian forests, and reforestation decisions made today will impact the health of our forests over the next century.  Population selection for future climates has been greatly informed by long-term provenance trials that generate population response functions to climate, but comprehensive experiments are lacking for many species, and there is a pressing need for relevant information in the shorter term. Population genomic approaches to identifying genes involved in adaptation to climate combined with high-throughput phenotyping in growth chamber experiments and spatial climatic models have the potential to fill this gap.


3. Role of Calcium in Signaling Plant Stress Response

Dr. Wayne Snedden, Department of Biology, Queen’s University

Calcium (Ca2+) ions serve as important second messengers in plant cells where they help regulate signal transduction pathways involved in development and response to stresses such as drought, pathogen attack and salinity. My lab aims to understand the mechanisms through which Ca2+ signals are interpreted in cells. We are particularly interested in the many Ca2+-binding proteins unique to plants that, we hypothesize, serve as Ca2+ sensors to translate Ca2+ signals into cell responses. I will present a broad overview of Ca2+ signalling in plants and discuss our work on Arabidopsis Ca2+ sensors including their biochemical properties and physiological roles. 


Armand Seguin4. Forest Pathology in the Era of Genomics

Dr. Armand Seguin, Forest Genomics, Laurentian Forestry Centre, St. Foy

With the recent sequencing of the Populus trichocarpa genome as well as those of several associated micro-organisms, poplar has the hallmark of a model woody system with great potential for obtaining breakthrough knowledge in the field of tree-microbe interactions. With their long life cycle, trees must have accurate mechanisms of sensing microbial invasion and elaborate signaling networks in order to activate the appropriate defense response. We pursued various approaches to identify poplar genes involved in the interaction with the biotrophic Melampsora rust pathogen. We will present what we have done with regard to the components involved in poplar defense response resulting from transcript profiling and data from genetic transformation experiments.


Canadian Weed Science Society (CWSS)


Marian Munro1. New Weeds in Eastern Canada


Marian Munro, Curator of Botany, Collections Unit, Nova Scotia Museum, Halifax

In the last 30 years, Maritime Canada has experienced the rapid spread of many new weedy or invasive plant species. They are not just arriving as ship's ballast as in past centuries, but from the south, the west and from overseas. The linear corridors of invasives called roads, have made plant migration as easy as, well, the movement of people. This presentation will introduce some of the past weedy species, some of the present problem plants and those that concerned researchers expect in the future.



Mirwais Qaderi2. Weed Responses to Climate Change

Dr. Mirwais Qaderi, Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax

In natural habitats, multiple co-occurring environmental factors affect plants. It is, therefore, important to study weed responses to multiple components of climate change.




David R. Clements,3. Predicting Weed Invasion of Canada under Climate Change: Measuring Evolutionary Potential

Dr. David R. Clements, Trinity Western University, Langley

Toni DiTommaso, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

Many weed species have already advanced northward from the U.S. into Canada and their number threatens to increase with climate change. For many weed species, this range expansion can be attributed to evolutionary adaptation to cooler climates among the northern populations. Invasive species predictive schemes often fail to account for this evolutionary potential, and thus range expansion by some weeds could be much greater than expected. In this paper I will attempt to synthesize available information on developing metrics to evaluate evolutionary potential for different weed species, so that the extent of weed invasion can be better predicted and understood.



Linda Hall4. New Crops and Crops With New Traits: Are They Weedy or Invasive?

Dr. Linda Hall, Agricultural, Food, and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta

Dr. Hugh Beckie, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Saskatoon

 Unlike unintended introductions, new crops will be widely planted in diverse areas. Seed movement will be facilitated by machinery, and fecundity will be optimized through careful fertilization and seeding. If new crops are weedy or invasive they will be very difficult to contain after release. Prior to the introduction of new crops or crops with new traits, field evaluation of weediness must be conducted. Comparative plant demographic analysis will be used to evaluate the potential of new crops to form self-sustaining, expanding populations. Carefully monitored field experiments should augment the initial trait-based evaluations.



Rene Van Acker, 5. The Role and Impact of Volunteer and Feral Crop Plants in the Era of Novel Traits

Dr. Rene Van Acker, Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph

In order to predict, prevent and mitigate harm to human health, the environment, or markets that may result from novel traits there is a need to better understand trait movement throughout agricultural supply chains. In this respect particular attention needs to be paid to the fact that trait movement in agro-ecosystems occurs within metapopulations that include not only volunteer, cropped and feral plants but also latent populations in the form of seed throughout large and complex agricultural supply chains, and that volunteer and feral populations play a substantive role in trait movement. Using examples of trait movement from real world situations, I will discuss what is known and what needs to be known about the mechanisms of trait movement, and why understanding trait movement is important in the era of novel traits.


Marie-Josée Simard6. History of the Detection of a New Weed in Canada: The Woolly Cupgrass (Eriochloa villosa) Case

Dr. Marie-Josée Simard, Soils and Crops Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Quebec 

The U.S. Federal Interagency Committee for the Management of Noxious and Exotic Weeds (FICMNEW) advocates that a National early warning and rapid response system is essential in order to prevent invasive plants from spreading. Could such a system work for weeds in crops (i.e., invasive plants of agricultural land) in Canada?  This presentation will outline the history of introduction of an exotic grass (Eriochloa villosa) in field crops in Quebec. Ten years after its first detection, what lessons can we learn from the Eriochloa villosa case and what are the hurdles that prevent the management and spread of new weeds?


Claire Wilson O’Driscoll,7. Preventing New Introductions: A Federal Response to Emerging Weed and Invasive Plant Threats in Canada

Claire Wilson O’Driscoll, Plant and Biotechnology Risk Assessment Unit, Plant Health Science Division, Canadian Food Inspection Agency

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is the federal agency responsible for plant protection in Canada. The primary focus of its plant protection program is preventing the introduction of new plant pests, including weeds and invasive plants. Since the release of “An Invasive Alien Species Strategy for Canada” in September 2004, the CFIA has been working with a variety of partners to develop a coordinated invasive plant program for Canada. This presentation will introduce this new program, and outline some of the tools used to predict and prevent new weed introductions, including risk assessment, pest distribution modeling, and climate modeling.



Canadian Phytopathological Society (CPS)

Geoffrey R. Dixon1. Responses of Pathogenic Microbes to Climate Change

Geoffrey R. Dixon, Centre for Horticulture, University of Reading and GreenGene International, Hill Rising, Horsecastles Lane, Sherborne, Dorset UK

Worldwide climates are changing at rates not previously experienced in geological time. Irrespective of the causes of change, it is crucial that scientists develop understandings of the implications and impacts for natural biodiversity, artificial landscapes and production agriculture. As world environments alter so the activities and vigour of aerial and edaphic microbes will change, some becoming considerably more active. There is a pressing need for understanding how plant pathogenic microbes will react. Currently, worldwide 20 to 25% of harvested crops are lost due to plant pathogenic action. The scale of these losses, especially those caused by soil borne microbes, seems set to increase. Damage caused by some soil-borne plant pathogens appears to be increasing already. This presentation will chart some probable effects of climate change and examine their environmental implications for soil borne pathogens with consequentially larger losses in world food production.      



Dr. Stella Melugin Coakley,2. Projected Effects of Climate Change on Plant Disease and How Plant Pathologists Can Prepare to Meet the Challenge

Dr. Stella Melugin Coakley, Botany and Plant Pathology, College of Agricultural Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis OR 97331 USA

Global climate change may seriously limit our ability to provide adequate food and fiber production for the rapidly growing world population. In addition to the evidence of an increased severity of soil borne pathogens, there are observations of changing patterns of plant disease in managed and native plant systems. One expects that in the long term, some diseases will increase and others will decrease, but the speed of climate change may result in significant and difficult to manage losses in some crops before adjustments can be made. This presentation will provide an overview of changes observed and what management options may be available.



 3. Trichothecenes and Other Secondary Metabolites from Fusarium graminearum – Is It Just About DON?

Dr. Barbara Blackwell, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa

Fusarium graminearum (Gibberella zeae Schwabe) and closely related Fusarium species cause fusarium head blight (FHB) in wheat and barley, and ear rot in maize. The disease results in reduced grain yield and quality as well as kernel contamination with the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol (vomitoxin or DON), thus resulting in great economic loss to producers. DON has been shown to be phytotoxic, thus acting as a virulence factor in the spread of the disease on the plant as well as potent non-specific inhibitor of eukaryotic protein synthesis.Within the F. graminearum species complex found in North America, there are three chemotypes, those producing 15-acetyl-DON (15-ADON ) and those producing 3-ADON as precursors to DON, and to a minor extent those producing nivalenol. Until recently, it appeared that F. graminearum isolates with the 15-ADON chemotype were the only significant cause of FHB. Although F. graminearum DAOM 233423 (a 15-ADON chemotype) originated in the United States, it is a particularly virulent strain that  is very similar to strains that have been isolated in Canada and is a good producer of 15-ADON in the laboratory. In addition, it is genetically well characterized and there have been several gene knockouts made from this strain. In the course of isolating quantities of 15-ADON from large scale liquid cultures of this strain for use as analytical standards and in toxicological testing, several novel metabolites, some of which presented analytical challenges, were isolated and characterized. These metabolites will be summarized and compared to the metabolic profile of native Canadian strains.


4. An Overview of Ochratoxin A in Canadian Grains

Dr. Sheryl Tittlemier, Canadian Grain Commission

Ochratoxin A (OTA) is a fungal secondary metabolite.  In areas with temperate climates (including Canada) OTA is produced in grain by Penicillium verrucosum.  OTA is produced during storage, as opposed to in the field, as is the case with Fusarium trichothecenes. The Canadian Grain Commission has been monitoring grain for OTA since the mid 1990s using state of the art analytical methods.  Much work has also been performed on developing adequate sampling protocols in order to minimize the effect of OTA’s heterogeneity in whole grain on the variance of analytical results. Data generated by the Canadian Grain Commission’s monitoring programs demonstrate that OTA is infrequently detected in bulk grain lots from both western and eastern Canada in the low ng/g range. The majority of OTA quantified in samples have been below the maximum limits of OTA recently proposed by Health Canada.


Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology (CIFST)

Atlantic Section/CSHS Joint Session

W Kalt1. Blueberries and Human Health

Dr. Wilhelmina Kalt, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Kentville, Nova Scotia

Research on the positive effects of fruit and vegetable phytochemicals on the health of living systems has led to a novel integration among the fields of plant science, food science and biomedicine to capitalize more fully on opportunities to improve health through dietary means. Flavonoid phytochemicals, which are ubiquitous in plant foods and particularly abundant in berry crops, are being studied in relation to health maintenance, disease risk reduction, and especially in models of chronic and acute physiological stress. Studies in biomedicine are being complemented by chemistry research in order to associate specific phytochemicals moieties with bioactivity, since this knowledge will give rise to a continuum of opportunities in food and health product development. Compared with other crops, blueberries and their flavonoids have been well studied, particularly in the fields of neuroscience and cardiovascular research and, more recently, diabetes. An overview of blueberry health research will be presented.

2. Latest Research on Health Benefits of Cranberry

Dr. Amy B. Howell, Rutgers University, Marucci Center for Blueberry Cranberry Research, Chatsworth, NJ, USA

 Research on the health benefits of cranberry has expanded beyond prevention of urinary tract infections. Specific compounds in cranberry called proanthocyanidins (PACs) have been widely studied and are thought to be responsible for inducing a bacterial anti-adhesion effect, preventing bacterial colonization and subsequent infection not only the urinary tract, but also in the stomach, gut and oral cavity.  The cranberry PAC structures contain A-type, double interflavanoid linkages, as opposed to the all B-type linkages found in PACs from other foods, such as grape and cocoa. The A-type linkages may be important in eliciting anti-adhesion bioactivity. The role of cranberry in preventing bacterial adhesion will be reviewed, as well as the emerging research into the fruit’s impact on markers for heart disease and cancer.  Issues concerning cranberry dosage, processing, and different forms of cranberry (juice and dried powder) will be discussed in relation to efficacy, PAC molecular structure, quantification and standardization.


CIFST Atlantic Section/CSA Joint Session

1. Developing Brewing Value Selection Tools for Malting Barley Breeding

Dr. Brian Rossnagel, University of Saskatchewan, Crop Development Centre, Saskatoon, SK

Malting barley breeders serve three masters - the barley grower, the maltster and the brewer. From a grain quality and eventual marketing viewpoint the key customer is the brewer. Barley breeders attempt to develop and release barley varieties with improved “malting/brewing” quality to create larger, more competitive and more profitable malting barley markets to increase demand for and value of the barley produced by farmers in western Canada. Traditionally (and currently) selection for genetic improvement in malting barley quality has focused on so-called malting quality traits which are important for efficient and profitable malting, but are also purportedly “correlated’ with brewing quality and are thus perceived to be of value to the brewer. However, while loosely “correlated” to brewing quality, recent work has shown that when selecting among elite malting barley breeding lines, many of the malting quality traits measured at considerable cost to the breeding program bear little relationship to what the brewer really desires, that being maximum and efficient fermentation. Finally like all plant breeders, malting barley breeders require very inexpensive, rapid tests that can be conducted on very small grain/malt samples annually to aid in the selection for malting quality among many thousands of breeding progeny at as early a stage in the breeding/selection process as possible.


2. Association Mapping of Malting Quality Traits in Barley

Dr. Aaron Beattie, University of Saskatchewan, Crop Development Centre, Saskatoon, SK

Association mapping (AM) is a tool that can identify regions within a genome (genome-wide AM), or within a gene (candidate gene AM), linked to the expression of traits. Historical datasets are a valuable resource, particularly when the data describes time-consuming and/or expensive-to-measure traits, that can be mined by AM for potential marker-trait relationships. A collection of 91 elite two-row malting barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) lines entered in the Western Canadian Co-operative Two-Row Barley Trials over a 13 year period were analysed by genome-wide AM to identify markers associated with seven malting quality traits. A linear mixed-model incorporating population structure and familial relatedness identified 27 diversity array technology (DArT) markers associated with malting quality. These markers will assist selection of parents with complementary allele combinations for future crosses and help identify progeny with the desired alleles. Candidate-expressed sequence tags (ESTs) responsible for marker-trait associations were identified for 19 of the 27 DArT markers and include genes important for seed storage protein accumulation, gibberellin-mediated gene expression, seed storage mobilization and dormancy. One of the genes identified by genome-wide AM as being significantly related to diastatic power (i.e., a measure of starch degrading enzyme activity) encoded the limit dextrinase (LD) enzyme. Within malting barley, LD activity is a critical component of starch mobilization because it is the only enzyme in germinating barley seed capable of cleaving (1-6)--glucosidic linkages. Because yeasts are unable to metabolize branched dextrins produced by amylases during starch hydrolysis, the action of LD is important to maximize the availability of fermentable sugars. The LD gene was sequenced across the same set of 91 lines in a candidate gene AM study to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) linked to higher LD activity. Preliminary associations between SNPs and LD activity will be presented.


3. Starch Degrading Enzymes and Their Role in Brewing Fermentation

Dr. Michael J. Edney, Grain Research Laboratory, Canadian Grain Commission, Winnipeg, MB

Fermentation is the central process in a brewery where yeast converts sugars to ethanol while producing important flavour compounds for beer. Yeast growth is also essential for meeting the strict timelines of modern breweries. Efficient production of ethanol is dependent on the supply of fermentable sugars, while adequate yeast growth is dependent on a supply of all essential nutrients, The majority of sugars in barley are tied up in starch which are unavailable for yeast metabolism. Fortunately, barley produces a family of enzymes that degrade barley starch to fermentable sugars. The enzymes beta-amylase, alpha-amylase, limit dextrinase and alpha-glucosidase are produced or released during barley germination. Beta-amylase, the enzyme of greatest concentration in malt, is an exo-acting enzyme that cleaves maltose from non-reducing ends of starch. The enzyme accumulates during grain development but is only activated during germination. Alpha-amylase is an endo-acting enzyme that releases dextrin substrates for the other enzymes. It is synthesized de novo during barley germination. Limit-dextrinase is an endo-acting enzyme that cleaves branch points in the starch releasing dextrin substrates for the other enzymes. Alpha-glucosidase is considered insignificant. In this presentation relationships between levels of the three major enzymes and fermentation will be discussed.


4. The Influence of Malting Barley on Beer Fermentability

Dr. Alex Speers, Dalhousie University, Food Science Program, Halifax, NS

Brewers are increasingly concerned with degree and variability of fermentability and how this directly impacts production efficiency and profit. The Brewing and Malting Barley Research Institute (BMBRI) lists fermentability as a malt trait requiring further understanding and research. Several starch-degrading enzymes influence fermentability (i.e.,  and -amylases, limit dextrinase and possibly -glucosidase). Canadian malt varieties possess high levels of these starch degrading enzymes and it has been argued that due to these high enzyme levels, enzyme thermal stability is not an issue. However, aside from one report that Harrington contains high -amylase activity (vs. Schooner) there is a lack of information on thermal stability of these diastatic enzymes. Also fermentability is only partially explained by wort sugar levels. Barley variety, other malt factors and yeast strains also can influence the extent to which wort ferments. After a short introduction to brewing, our knowledge of this important brewing metric will be reviewed. Developments in bench-top techniques for fermentability assessment will also be discussed.

CSA/Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada (OACC) Joint Session

1. Are Organic Farms Different? A Canadian Perspective

Dr. Derek Lynch, Nova Scotia Agricultural College, Truro, NS

The overreaching goal of the Canadian organic standards is to develop farm enterprises that are ‘‘sustainable and harmonious with the environment’’. But do organic farms achieve these goals? Are the cropping systems and rotations, soil management practices and intensity of nutrient use, energy and pesticide use, floral and habitat diversity etc. on organic farms sufficiently distinct as to impart measurable and important environmental and/or ecological benefits? Synthesizing results of primarily Canadian research, Derek will present the case that the specific attributes of organic farms themselves should perhaps be considered as valuable to society as the agricultural products of these enterprises. Organic agriculture may thus offer an innovative and more holistic approach to the traditional concept of ‘value added’ in agriculture.


   Chair: Dr. Y. Papadopoulos, 902-896-2452 - Yousef.Papadopoulos@agr.gc.caPlant Canada Webmaster
Plant Canada Joint meeting of the CSHS, CSA, CSPP, CWSS, CPS and CBA