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2011 Expedition to Iqaluit, Nunavut

Mon, 09/01/2014 - 23:53 -- Fabrice Berrue

Exploring Canada's Arctic as a Source of Novel Natural Products

Brad Haltli, September 2011

Canada's arctic is a cold and forbidding region of the world.  This diverse area is often thought to be relatively devoid of biolgical diversity and most people associate the arctic with relatively few large mammals such as polar bears, muskox, seals, walruses and whales, as well as a variety of migratory bird species.  This view of the arctic largely ignores microbial diversity.  Several studies in the arctic have examined general bacterial diversity of tundra and the diversity observed has rivalled that of tropical soils.  The majority of the studies conducted to date have been concerned with bacterial diveristy as it relates to climate change and bioremediation of contaminated soils.  The aim of the 2011 expedition to Iqaluit was to obtain a number of terrestrial soil and intertidal marine sediment samples so that we could assess microbial diversity of this arctic region  from a natural product discovery perspective.  We will characterize the microbial diversity using a combination of culture independent and culture dependent methodologies.  We will subsequently evaluate bacteria cultured from these samples for the ability to produce novel bioactive metabolites.  Our hypothesis is that novel bacterial and fungal biodiversity will be discovered from arctic samples which will coincided with the production of novel natural products from these unique microbes.  

Below are some photographs that document this expedition:

 Iqaluit airport.

Iqualuit, view from western shore of Frobisher Bay.

View looking over Iqaluit into Frobisher Bay.

Nunavut Arctic College Old Residence - my home for a week.

Nunavut Research Institute - research facilities.

Nunavut Research Institute Lab - very nice labs!!  Many thanks to the faculty and staff at the Nunavut Research Institute for their help throughout the duration of the collecting expedition.

My trusty steed for the week - a Yamaha Big Bear ATV.

Self portrait of Brad Haltli collecting samples in the tundra.

Tarr Inlet south east of Iqaluit at extreme low tide.

Inlet on west side of Frobisher Bay at extreme low tide.

Silvia Grinnell River in Silvia Grinnell Territorial Park.

View from Qaummaarviit Territorial Park into Frobisher Bay.

Iceberg in Frobisher Bay.

Collecting site south of Iqaluit.

Collecting site south of Iqaluit at low tide.

Sediment sample.

Collecting site on the tundra.


Pond on the Tundra.

Pond scum.

Arctic Cotton Grass in foreground. 

Canadian Eskimo Dogs.

The 4 Corners - cross roads in the heart of Iqaluit.

Polar bear.....luckily the closest I came to seeing a polar bear was this stuffed specimen at a museum in Iqaluit .

Tundra surrounding Iqaluit from the airplane.

Silvia Grinnell River from the airplane.

Highlands west of Iqaluit.....snow on September 3rd!!!