Welcome to IMSS

The Institute for Microbial Systems and Society (IMSS) was created in 2016 by Dr. Andrew Cameron and Dr. Christopher Yost at the University of Regina. The creation of the IMSS represented the formalization of the strength of functional microbial genomics research within the Faculty of Science and has provided the means to increase research activities and collaborations for research impact. The IMSS provides access to genomic technologies combined with the exploration of new ways to integrate genomic tools to collaborative research programs. The IMSS uses a functional genomics approach by integrating current and emerging sequencing technologies to develop comprehensive approaches for studying the genetic makeup, gene expression, and gene function in microbial organisms and within microbial communities.

The IMSS has trained a large cohort of students and PDFs. These include trainees that receive prestigious national scholarships, including NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowships, NSERC Canadian Graduate Scholarships, NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards, and provincial Postdoctoral Fellowships.

Featured Research

Antibiotic resistance genes in municipal wastewater treatment systems and receiving waters in Arctic Canada

Science of the Total Environment (2017) 598, 1085-1094.

Kara D. Neudorf, Yan Nan Huang, Colin M Ragush, Christopher K Yost, Rob C Jamieson, Lisbeth Truelstrup Hansen.


Domestic wastewater discharges may adversely impact arctic ecosystems and local indigenous people, who rely on being able to hunt and harvest food from their local environment. Therefore, there is a need to develop efficient wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), which can be operated in remote communities under extreme climatic conditions. WWTPs have been identified as reservoirs of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs). The objective of this work was to quantify the presence of nine different ARG markers (int1, sul1, sul2, tet(O), erm(B), mecA, blaCTXM, blaTEM, and qnr(S)) in two passive systems (waste stabilization ponds [WSPs]) and one mechanical filtration plant operating in two smaller and one large community, respectively, in Nunavut, Canada. Measurement of water quality parameters (carbonaceous oxygen demand, ammonia, total suspended solids, Escherichia coli and total coliforms) showed that the WWTPs provided only primary treatment. Low levels of the ARGs (2 log copies/mL) were observed in the effluent, demonstrating that bacteria residing in three northern WWTPs harbour ARGs conferring resistance to multiple clinically-relevant classes of antibiotics. Our results indicate that long-term storage in WSPs benefitted removal of organic material and some ARGs. However, one WSP system showed evidence of the enrichment of sul1, sul2, mecA, tet(O) and qnr(S). Further research is needed to fully understand if these ARG releases pose a risk to human health, especially in the context of traditional hunting and fishing activities.



COV3R: U of R’s genome capture project detects COVID-19, the flu, or anything else that ails you” – Feature of the U of R website


“Current tests for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases are often based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR), a common technique used in labs to detect the DNA or RNA from viruses or bacteria that cause disease,” explains Cameron. “The technology is fast and efficient for detecting pathogens we already know about. However, PCR is unable to detect new or unknown pathogens that aren’t yet well-characterized. A further complication is that known pathogens can escape PCR detection by evolving new genetic sequences. The most important information for fighting infectious disease is identifying the causative agent — but, you can’t detect what you don’t test for.


“Weeds, bees, and mould” – feature in Discourse Magazine


“It’s imperative that we figure out why our bees are disappearing. They positively impact entire ecosystems and they’re important to farmers…My preliminary research shows a potential new fungal pathogen closely related to yeast in at-risk bee species.” -About Kirsten Palmier’s research.

International posting: https://bienen-nachrichten.de/2020/neue-pathogene-bei-hummeln/730

“Aphanomyces, which kills both peas and lentils at their roots, is difficult to get rid of because it can live in soil for up to 10 years…The soil’s microbiome-which is all the bacteria and the fungus that grow around the roots-may prove to be beneficial and stop the infection.” -About Nikki Burnett’s research.


“Innovative inoculants” – feature in Discourse Magazine


“Chris Yost, biology professor and co-director of the Institute for Microbial Systems and Society, and his research team of postdoctoral fellows recently won the Award of Innovation at the Regina Chamber of Commerce 2019 Paragon Awards for their work with Lallemand Inc., a business that develops and commercializes microbe-based technologies.”

“Battling bacteria” –  feature in Discourse Magazine


“Research focused on understanding antibiotic resistance and developing diagnostic tools to deal with it is a priority in Caeron’s group within the Integrated Microbial Systems and Society (IMSS) Research Laboratory. They have had success on both fronts and have already had the satisfaction of seeing what they are learning put into practice combatting antibiotic resistance in Saskatchewan and elsewhere.”

“U of R researchers using genetics to detect and control infectious disease” – Regina Leader Post Article


“…Our lab is looking at how [antibiotic resistant] genes are used by the organism — when does it turn them off and on,” Cameron said. “What we’re finding is that even some of the most resistant organisms turn off their resistance sometimes. The more we can understand what induces them to turn off the resistance, then we can hit them when they make themselves vulnerable or we can trick them into turning it off.”

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