Conducting Research under Highly Controlled Quarantine Conditions

Morden AAFC R&D Centre

The Agiculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Research and Development Centre in Morden, Manitoba leads research in six areas:

  • Cereal diseases
  • Cereal germplasm and genomics
  • Flax and Eastern Prairie Pulse crop germplasm
  • Human nutrition, food health attributes, and functional foods
  • Bioprospection from bioresources: cereals, pulses, and oilseeds
  • Grain and grain products storage research

A distinctive feature of the Morden facility is that it is a state-of-the-art Plant Pest Containment (PPC 3) facility, which is the highest quarantine level for virulent diseases. ​
The PPC3 facility is proofed against pathogen escape – whether it be airborne, water, material or personnel. Hepa filters on the air intake and exhaust system trap materials as small as 0.3 microns. Water is collected in effluent tanks and into a sterilizing vessel before being pasteurized by steam at 120°C for 40 minutes to kill any unwanted spores. All materials leaving the lab are also sterilized though a double-door autoclave before returning to the facility, while personnel are required to change out of their lab garments, shower and exit to a dressing room to return to their street clothes. The facility also has a cement wall to prevent pathogen escape due to vehicle impact.

The Morden Research Station operates the first PPC 3 biocontainment facility in Canada for research on plant pathogens. While the plant pathogens pose no risk to research personnel, they are high risk to crops due their high virulence to plant crop species. Disease epidemics such as wheat stem rust can cause significant yield losses. The Morden facility is crucial for safely conducting research to develop wheat lines with resistance to highly virulent lineages of wheat stem rust like Ug99 which can cause up to 100% crop losses.

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