Category Archives: University of Guelph

Meals on Mars: Life in space – and on earth – relies on plants

Mike Dixon with plants growing in a controlled envrionment - webBy Lisa McLean for AgInnovation Ontario

Guelph – Plants are hardier than people. It’s a lesson Dr. Mike Dixon has learned in his lab, where he grows plants under “weird” conditions. Someday, astronauts will apply his research to growing food crops in space, but today his findings are benefiting Earth.

Dixon is Director of the Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility at the University of Guelph. The lab is the most advanced facility of its kind in the world, housing equipment such as hypobaric chambers that allow researchers to experiment with unusual growth conditions such as reduced atmospheric pressure. Continue reading

Sunny days: New tool helps greenhouses make light of winter

Per Aage Lysaa - webBy Lisa McLean for AgInnovation Ontario

Guelph – Each year, Canadian greenhouse growers face a challenge nearly as old as the sun itself: During the darker days of a Canadian winter, nothing grows.

Greenhouse production enters a mandatory hiatus, because there is not enough sunlight to sustain plant growth. Facilities are cleaned out. Plants are replanted.

And when the first harvest of the new season finally arrives, Canadian growers must battle for space on supermarket shelves, where produce from warmer climates has enjoyed its day in the sun.

Now, a systems integration company with facilities in Norway, China and Canada is offering a solution to Canadian greenhouse growers: LED lighting systems that can augment the sun’s rays, even when sunshine is scarce. Continue reading

New research reins in deadly equine disease

foals - Jolene Perdue webBy Jeanine Moyer for AgInnovation Ontario

Guelph – Researchers at the University of Guelph have made an equine breakthrough that can change the health of newborn foals.  Led by John Prescott, pathobiology researcher and former professor, the research team identified an uncommon, but deadly bacterium that causes necrotizing enteritis disease in very young foals, and has already created a vaccine for further research.

For years, an unknown strain of this intestinal bacterium has been killing foals within the first week of life. Prescott and his team have worked for several years to understand the cause of necrotizing enteritis in foals and recently identified the bacterial agent and its deadly toxin, which they have called NetF.

“We’ve identified this disease strain that multiplies among naturally occurring gastrointestinal bacteria and releases a toxin that damages the intestines of newborn foals and can kill them,” says Prescott. Continue reading

Underlying heart problems could be causing pig deaths during transport

Pig truck

Pig transport truck – courtesy of Farm & Food Care photo library

By Lilian Schaer for AgInnovation Ontario

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Guelph – New research funded through the Ontario Farm Innovation Program (OFIP) is suggesting that heart failure due to enlarged hearts may be a key reason why some pigs die on farm or during transport.

In-transit losses – pigs that die while being transported – tend to be higher during the summer months when temperatures are warmer, leading to a commonly accepted school of thought that attributes heat-related stress as a leading contributor to the mortalities.

“Now we know there is a lot more to this story and although it is still a relatively unusual condition – only about 0.06 per cent of all pigs shipped to market – we should do something about it,” explained Tony Van Dreumel, an independent veterinary pathologist and consultant who worked on the project together with University of Guelph PhD candidate Kathy Zurbrigg. Continue reading

New nano sensor detects dairy cattle diseases quickly, easily

Device ready to move to commercialization
By Lilian Schaer for AgInnovation Ontario

Suresh GryphSens Pic1A new handheld instrument can quickly and easily detect two significant diseases in dairy cattle before the animals become sick.

Invented at the University of Guelph by engineering professor Suresh Neethirajan and researchers in the BioNano Laboratory, the nano biosensor uses small test strips to indicate whether a cow has ketosis or metabolic disease by analyzing a small volume of blood or milk.

Nanosensing diagnostic platforms for biomarkers of ketosis and metabolic disease have been developed, which help to rapidly identify elevated levels that can indicate the presence of either of the diseases in animals that appear healthy.

Currently, blood samples must be taken and sent to a lab for analysis, a process that is costly and can take five to seven days to return a diagnosis. Continue reading