London Research and Development Centre
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
1391 Sandford Street
Vineland Research Farm
4902 Victoria Avenue North, PO 6000
The London Research and Development Centre was established in 1951 in London, Ontario. A satellite research location associated with the London Research and Development Centre is located in Vineland, Ontario. The Vineland Research Farm is a Minor Use Pesticide Program site which supports the Centre's mission to develop alternative and environmentally acceptable technologies to protect crops. It is also the main site of tree fruit research.
The Centre focuses its research in three key areas:
- Crop genomics, bioproducts, and biopesticides
- Protection and improvement of fruits and vegetable crops
- Soil and water quality
Facilities at the London Research and Development Centre
- Headquarters site at London is on 25 hectares; 30 hectares are at Vineland (located at the Vineland Campus in the Niagara Peninsula)
- Research orchard of 32 hectares (at Jordan, Ontario)
- Three research greenhouses totaling 1,834 square meters
- Lab and office space at all three sites comprises 7,096 square meters
- Insect production rooms
- Linked to the Biotron facility at the University of Western Ontario, an experimental facility for research on the impact of climate change and extreme environments on plants, insects and micro-organisms
Current research activities
Working with nature
- Improving management of field crops and enhancing soil quality - its structure and fertility - while maintaining the integrity of the agricultural environment
- Developing strategies and procedures for managing insect pests based on biological control with minimal or no reliance on chemical pesticides
- Studying crop pest populations and their movements; investigating chemical controls for short-term use in crops of small production volume
- Breeding tree fruits to produce selections and varieties that can better resist diseases, pests
- Using innovative methods of producing, handling and processing crops to achieve quality products
Biotechnology at its best
- Using automated DNA sequencing and biological information systems, data bases, indexes, bioinformatics, etc. to solve problems in crop production.
- Understanding growth and crop production processes at the molecular level, such as the interaction between a crop and a pest, how a particular high-value compound is produced, or how protein is accumulated in plants, to allow the enhancement of those processes.
- Acquiring knowledge of the genetic composition of plants so traits can be manipulated to produce novel value-added products to improve plant performance under adverse conditions, or to provide foods with improved nutritional qualities.
Results of our research
- Contributed to global efforts to reduce crop dependency on commercial nitrogen (N):
- discovered that a single plant gene activated the root nodulation process (critical step in the N-fixation process);
- introduced a N-fixing bacterium from sugarcane into corn and sorghum genotypes (first step in achieving N-fixation in these crops);
- identified and characterized genes and enzymes responsible for N-transport in soybean and dry bean.
- Discovered a gene network in alfalfa that controls yield and quality.
- Developed methods to help produce vaccines in crops and reduce antibiotic use in livestock and poultry.
- Developed methods to profile soybean plants infected with four common root diseases that can be used by farmers to set up control strategies.
- Developed next generation sequencing to identify viral pathogens from plants.
- Developed a quick and economical method to detect all strains of the Plum Pox Virus (PPV) and reduce the need for annual testing; identified three host genes required for PPV infection; developed a PPV-resistant plum.
- Developed a strategy using natural plant components to control greenhouse insect pests and reduce pesticide use;
- developed a dual action biological control agent to control fire blight;
- identified potential biological agents to control postharvest and storage diseases of fruits and vegetables.
Agro-Ecosystem productivity and health
- Determined the persistence and fate of pharmaceutical substances in biosolids applied to agricultural soils: they are not taken up by plants; provided policy recommendations to minimize risks to surface and ground water contamination.
- Developed source-specific DNA markers for beaver and muskrat feces to determine the relative roles of agriculture, humans and wildlife in water quality.
- Discovered that common antibiotics used in swine production were broken down more rapidly in soils exposed over several seasons than in unexposed naïve soils.
- Discovered that a number of genes that cause human and animal diseases carried in E. coli in swine were lost during manure storage on a commercial farm.
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