Safer drinking water and better crop yields

By Dale Johnson Posted: June 15, 2015 6:00 a.m.

Dr. Chris Yost (l), Dr. Andrew Cameron (c) and Dr. John Stavrinides (r), biology professors at the U of R, are on the Local Organizing Committee of the Canadian Society of Microbiologists.
Dr. Chris Yost (l), Dr. Andrew Cameron (c) and Dr. John Stavrinides (r), biology professors at the U of R, are on the Local Organizing Committee of the Canadian Society of Microbiologists. Photo courtesy of Rae Graham - U of R Photography.

Increasing crop yields, developing new antimicrobial therapies, and ensuring safe drinking water are among the topics that will be discussed at a microbiology conference at the University of Regina from June 15 to 18, 2015.

Research leaders in the discipline from across Canada and other countries will be presenting their results at the University of Regina for the 65th annual Canadian Society of Microbiologists conference.

“The scientific conference addresses many aspects of microbiology, and the topics highlight the importance of microbiology in society. For example, specific sessions will focus on how microbes can be used to increase crop yields and help improve food security while helping to promote sustainable agricultural practices. There is also a focus on water quality and impacts to water quality,” says Dr. Chris Yost, professor in the department of biology at the University of Regina.

“One researcher will discuss results on a water quality and antibiotic resistance study in First Nations communities. There is a scientific session dedicated to finding new antimicrobials to tackle the current clinic challenge of antibiotic resistance. Addressing this global challenge is critical to ensure we do not return to a time where people will suffer serious health consequences from what use to be commonly-treated infections,” Dr. Yost adds.

About 200 microbiologists are expected to attend the conference, which is being held at the University of Regina for the first time. There is a strong emphasis on graduate student training at the conference and several graduate students will be presenting their research.

“It will showcase the excellent research infrastructure we have and the strength of our graduate students on a national and international level. This also shows that we have the capacity to undertake meaningful high-impact research” he says.

Dr. Yost is Canada Research Chair in Microbes, the Environment and Food Safety. He is one of 10 Canada Research Chairs at the University of Regina, and along with other scholars at the U of R are helping Saskatchewan build its international reputation in research and innovation. Research is a key element of the University’s strategic plan.

“Exchanges of scientific knowledge also benefit the wider community, because many new ideas and advances in our understanding happen during these conferences. It also brings people to Regina who have never visited the city before, and will hopefully leave a lasting positive impression of Regina,” says Dr. Yost.