Genome Prairie


Microbes: Bringing Mining to a Whole New Level

Now more than ever, the extraction industry is striving to achieve greater levels of transparency, accountability as well as environmental and social responsibility.  Microbial Assessment for Value-Add, Environment and Natural Resources (MAVEN) researchers are playing an important role in these efforts by developing novel genomic-based approaches for the identification of microbial communities associated with mining, milling, treatment and remediation operations.  By providing a greater understanding of the microbial communities at play, it is anticipated that the tools and techniques developed by MAVEN could ultimately be used to sustainably enhance mining processes while reducing the time and costs needed for the remediation of mine sites and other effluent-receiving environments.

Research ResultsResearch Results

Laboratory techniques have been developed to analyze the capabilities of microbial communities.  Using these new techniques, a number of microbes capable of reducing constituents of concern have been discovered in lake sediment samples.  The presence of these microbes indicates that natural remediation options are available. In addition, a customized software pipeline has been developed to analyze the genetic make-up of these microbial communities.  MAVEN researchers can now work towards harnessing the ability of these microbes to benefit industry and the environment.

Notable OutcomesNotable Outcomes

MAVEN is building unique infrastructure and human resource capacity for the long-term benefit of Saskatchewan’s knowledge-based economy.

  • Contango Strategies has developed new in-house sequencing capacity to process and analyze lake samples. 
  • The University of Saskatchewan has acquired significant computing capacity to store and analyze metagenomic data for MAVEN and future projects.
  • Contango Strategies signed a memorandum of understanding with Ducks Unlimited Canada, forming a collaboration that provides support services for the development of scientific data that protects and enhances wetland systems in Canada. 

Quick Facts

Project Leaders:

Reno Pontarollo, Genome Prairie
Monique Haakensen, Contango Strategies
Tony Kusalik, University of Saskatchewan

Project Manager:

Kari Doerksen, Genome Prairie

Project Value:

$1.75 Million

Funding Partners:

Western Economic Partnership Agreement,
Cameco, Contango Strategies

Project Status:

Complete (2011-2013)

Project Website: