AWC - Funded Research

Pesticide impact on soil microbiome: an opportunity to identify microbial candidates for inoculation and field bio-augmentation

AWC investment: $227,875

Start date: March 1, 2019                              
End date: March 31, 2022


This project aims to study the impact of pesticides on soil microbiome under cereal production and identify/isolate microbes thriving under pesticide use and investigate their potential as pesticide degraders. Soil microbes from long-term rotation plots, experimental plots and growers’ fields where wheat is grown and pesticides are used will be identified and evaluated for their potential to degrade pesticides.

Overall objective:

To study the impact of pesticides on soil microbiome under cereal production and identify/isolate microbial communities thriving under pesticide use and investigate their potential as inoculants for field bioaugmentation. Specific objectives:

  1. To collect soil samples from both experimental plots and cereal producers’ fields.
  2. To perform genomics/metagenomics and pesticide analysis of soil.
  3. To identify/isolate microbial candidates for inoculation and bioaugmentation studies.

Benefits to industry:

There is an opportunity to capture microbial communities able to degrade pesticides used under typical cereal production to develop microbial inoculants that could potentially protect our water resources and environment from pesticide contamination. This potential has been demonstrated by pesticide rinsate biobeds and can lead to economic benefits from an environmental protection perspective. While Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies have been employed by food producers for decades, they did not result in massive reduction of pesticide use under the Canadian Prairie conditions. Cereal production is large-scale and requires pesticides for efficient pest management and maintaining farming operations productivity and profitability. Providing elements of solution to protect water quality without impeding farming operations and profitability would be a good step from an economical perspective, but also provide better social license and environmental support for crop production and the agricultural sector.


Claudia is a research scientist in environmental and immunochemistry with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2005.  Her main scientific interests consist in environmental immunochemistry, water quality and trace residue analysis of agricultural contaminants including pesticides, veterinary antibiotics and hormones. The development of pesticide mitigation strategies such as on-farm pesticide rinsate biobeds to protect water quality is also a strong component of her research program. Claudia is from Quebec City.  She obtained her B.Sc. in Biology and Agronomy from Université Laval in Québec, her M.Sc. in Immunochemistry from the University of Guelph, and her Ph.D in Antibody engineering from the National Research Council of Canada in Ottawa. Claudia also worked in Italy and Czech Republic.