The agriculture/agri-food and fisheries/aquaculture sectors are currently facing many challenges. The effects of climate change, such as severe weather extremes, shifting habitats, and pest and disease outbreaks are threatening agricultural production and quality. Consumer demand for products from non-conventional agricultural systems is increasing costs and lowering production volume, and regulatory challenges and uncertainties are hindering innovation and the adoption of new technologies. Capture fisheries are subject to drastic changes in availability, while aquaculture is the fastest growing food production sector in the world. Consequently, these sectors must find strategies to increase production efficiency, quality, and sustainability, while maintaining healthy ecosystems and providing safe products. In addition, societal acceptance of genomics-based technologies is a major challenge faced by these sectors.


The 2018 Large-Scale Applied Research Project Competition aims to support projects that will demonstrate how genomics research can be translated into solutions that advance the sustainability, productive capacity and the resulting competitive position of the Canadian agriculture/agri-food and fisheries/aquaculture sectors, and thereby contribute to the Canadian bioeconomy and the well-being of Canadians.

Applicants must demonstrate how their proposal will produce concrete deliverables by the end of the funding period that have the potential to be subsequently translated into significant social and/or economic benefits within as short a time-frame as possible after the end of the project.

To ensure that the objectives of the Request for Applications (RFA) are met, all applications will be evaluated according to the criteria established for the competition: 1) quality of the research proposal; 2) benefits for Canada; and, 3) management and financial aspects (see Appendix 1).


To be eligible for this competition, proposals must:

  • respond to the objectives of the competition;
  • include genomics approaches as essential components in terms of importance to the overall outcomes of the project; and,
  • be of a scale and scope such that they are able to address challenges requiring a genomics approach, be internationally competitive and have the potential for major impact.

To be eligible for AAFC funding, applicants must satisfy the requirements for the competition as outlined above as well as any additional requirements put forth by AAFC as described in Appendix 2.

This RFA provides an opportunity for research teams to propose large-scale projects that would be part of even larger national and international research initiatives, as long as the eligibility criteria are met.

Projects funded through this competition must focus on using genomic approaches to address challenges and opportunities of importance to Canada’s agriculture/agri-food and/or fisheries/aquaculture sectors. Topics of applied research that could be addressed include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • increasing production efficiency, yield, and agronomic performance;
  • genomics based approaches that reduce and/or mitigate abiotic and biotic stress in plants and animals;
  • more effective production of bioproducts (e.g., biochemicals, biofuels) from agriculturally-sourced feedstock through the modification and selection of crops and microorganisms with enhanced attributes;
  • improving the health of crops, livestock, and fish through increased resilience to disease, pests and invasive species, along with more accurate diagnostic tests;
  • product and food safety, e.g., developing improved genomic tools to detect pathogens, toxins and undesirable metabolites, or to prevent food fraud;
  • adapting production to accelerated climate change, such as genomics-assisted crop breeding to identify agronomic traits which can make crops more resilient to drought, flooding, and temperature extremes;
  • reducing the environmental footprint of crop, livestock and aquaculture production systems through decreased water, fertilizer and pesticide use, reduced GHG emissions, and improved fish feed, resulting in improved sustainability;
  • advancing genomics research on microbial communities and ecosystems related to agricultural and aquaculture production systems (e.g. soil, plant-microbe, rumen, monogastric gut, fermented foods, aquatic primary production);
  • improving the environmental sustainability of farmed fish species, ensuring wild species conservation and protection of ecosystem biodiversity;
  • preserving biodiversity in crops and livestock, including the genetic resources for agriculture and agri-food, as well as the components of biodiversity that support agroecosystems;
  • managing and reducing antimicrobial resistance in livestock and aquaculture – proposals are encouraged to include a one-health perspective (i.e., the collaborative efforts of multiple disciplines working locally, nationally and globally to achieve the best health for people, animals and our environment) but the main focus should be on livestock or aquaculture;
  • development of genomics tools and resources needed to accelerate breeding and further the development of the emerging Cannabis industry;
  • growth and sustainability of pollinators (e.g. bees), especially where adversely affected by climate change, habitat loss, disease, pests and insecticides; or,
  • food supply chains that are more efficient and less susceptible to spoilage and waste (e.g., breeding for specific traits that improve resistance of crops to damage during harvesting, handling and storage).

NOTE: Studies focussing on genomics related to companion animals are not eligible for support in this competition.Eligible animal species for study must be part of agriculture or aquaculture food production systems or the wild commercial fishery. Studies focussed on companion animals may, however, be able to obtain support from other Genome Canada programs such as the Genomic Applications Partnership Program depending on the details of the proposal and whether it meets the eligibility criteria of these other programs.

Integrated GE3LS research topics that could be addressed in this competition include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • supporting regulatory research to improve the precision and robustness of testing, decision-making, and regulatory approaches, to be in line with international standards;
  • gaining social legitimacy, credibility and trust by aligning technological advances with societal goals; or,
  • exploring translational pathways including social, political, regulatory, policy or economic factors that would accelerate the responsible uptake of genomics-based applications in the agriculture/agri-food or the fisheries/aquaculture sectors, and investigating strategies that can foster receptivity.

In order to maximize the effectiveness of this RFA in advancing genomics research and its application in Canada, rapid sharing of the outputs of the research (e.g., publications, data and resources) is required (see Genome Canada’s Data Release and Sharing Policies).

Funding Available

  • AAFC has agreed to provide up to $16 million to AAFC scientists for approved “relevant” Collaborative Projects over a four year period from 2019 to 2023.
  • The maximum contribution to an approved Collaborative Project will be $3 million from AAFC.
  • The minimum contribution to an approved “relevant” Collaborative Project will be $0.5 million from AAFC.
  • The AAFC contribution to a Collaborative Project will not have to be co-funded by other eligible sources, though AAFC scientists are encouraged to find co-funding that can be directly linked to the AAFC component and these projects will be rated more favourably in the AAFC relevance review.
  • AAFC funding, and any co-funding coming to AAFC scientists, will follow the applicable federal government and AAFC guidelines. In the event where such funding would be used to cover costs not considered eligible under Genome Canada’s Guidelines for Funding, the total amount of such costs will not be accounted as part of the collaborative project’s budget.
  • As per the Financial Administration Act, a mechanism will be put in place to ensure that no Genome Canada funds flow to AAFC.

Useful Links

  • For further details about funding categories, eligibility criteria and deadlines, click here.


CORIS Internal Review Please contact your Research Facilitator
Deadline for submitting registrations to Genome Canada August 16, 2018
Deadline for submitting per-applications to Genome Canada November 15, 2018
cuResearch Checklist April 4, 2019
Submission to Sponsor April 11, 2019

Submitting Your Application

  • Applications must be submitted via cuResearch, through which Departmental and Associate Dean’s approval must be provided to complete the online application process.
  • More information on cuResearch can be found here.

Internal Contacts

If you would like assistance with proposal development and/or a substantive review of your proposal, please contact the appropriate Research Facilitator.