Lyle G. Whyte

Canada Research Chair in Environmental Microbiology

Tier 2 - 2003-10-01
Renewed: 2008-10-01
McGill University
Natural Sciences and Engineering


Research involves

Examining microbial biodiversity and ecology in the Canadian Arctic, using classical microbiology and novel genomics-based molecular techniques.

Research relevance

The research will give a better understanding of cold-adapted micro-organisms and their potential use in different fields

The Arctic's Little Helpers: How Rhudococaus Cleans up the Environment

The Canadian Arctic is home to micro-organisms that survive and thrive in extreme weather. This unique habitat includes cold perennial salt springs, glacial ice and sub-glacial soil, permafrost, and ground ice.

Dr. Lyle G. Whyte has previously conducted research at the Biotechnology Research Institute of the National Research Council of Canada. Significant findings from his research program on the capabilities of cold-adapted bacteria to degrade ("break down") pollutants have earned him an international reputation in the field. In particular, Dr. Whyte's investigations revealed that the organism Rhudococaus was one species found to degrade pollutants at low temperatures. As the Canada Research Chair in Environmental Microbiology, Dr. Whyte now aims to expand his research on micro-organisms by classifying the genes that are involved in this degradation ability.

The Canadian Arctic is truly a cornucopia of microbial diversity about which little is known. Dr. Whyte is exploring this biodiversity, opening doors for new applications to help protect the northern environment in Canada and around the globe. Dr. Whyte's research on Arctic ecosystems is deepening our understanding of the natural processes in extreme ecosystems. In particular, new knowledge about microbial populations will find applications in the decontamination of polluted northern sites.

Dr. Whyte's background in molecular biology and environmental genomics is a wonderful asset to McGill, where he is responsible for developing courses in environmental microbiology and in soil and water bioremediation.