Rodrigo Ortega Polo

Image Rodrigo Ortega Polo
Biology Study Leader - Bioinformatics

I am the head of the Bioinformatics Research Support Unit at the Lethbridge Research and Development Centre. Our unit designs, develops and conducts collaborative science activities in genomics, bioinformatics and big data applications in support of research programs. I lead technology adoption in science programs, and I help to developing training programs for staff. I also collect, compile, analyse, and interpret research data from research studies.

Current research and/or projects

Grants Held – Principal Investigator

Grants Held – Co-investigator


  • Old plots, new hypotheses: Toward a revitalized AAFC long-term agroecosystem experiment (LTAE) network. AAFC A-base. PIs: Charles Geddes & Mervin St. Luce.
  • Increasing photosynthetic efficiency. AAFC A-base. PI: Stacy Singer
  • Phenomics and digital imaging. AAFC A-base. PI: Anne Smith
  • Pan-genome of tan spot (Pyrenophora tritici-repentis). PI: Reem Abboukhaddour
  • Multi-omics strategy to investigate liver abscess development in beef cattle. BCRC. PI: Robert Gruninger.
  • STEC in Cattle and Clinical Infections. BCRC. PI: Tim McAllister
  • Rumen adaptation to seaweed consumption. AAFC A-base. PI: D. Wade Abbott
  • Bacterial therapeutic administration. BCRC. PI: Trevor Alexander

Building bioinformatics capacity in AAFC as member of the Bioinformatics and Big Data Research Support Network (BSRN) and in Alberta as member of BioNet Alberta.

Professional activities / interests

  • Bioinformatics education and training
  • Metagenomics and microbiome profiles in agricultural systems
  • Genomics of bacteria, fungal plant pathogens, and cereal crops
  • Data portals
  • Workflow management systems (e.g. Nextflow/nf-core, Snakemake)
  • High performance computing
  • Mining of publicly available data

Education and awards

  • Master of Science, University of Lethbridge
  • Bachelor of Science, University of Lethbridge

International experience and/or work

Attended the workshop Managing a Bioinformatics Core Facility at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory-European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) in Hinxton, UK (June, 2019)

Member of the organizing committee of the Bioinfo-Core Community of Special Interest. Co-chaired the Bioinfo-Core session in the ISMB 2020 virtual conference.

Key publications

  1. Moote, P.E., Bescucci, D.M., Polo, R.O., Uwiera, R.R.E., Inglis, G.D. (2021). Comparison of Strategies for Isolating Anaerobic Bacteria from the Porcine Intestine, 87(9), 1-23.

    2021 - View publication details

  2. Ortega-Polo R, Vishwakarma S, Tran L, Gregoris A, Guarna MM (2020) A reproducible workflow for amplicon-based microbial community analysis using the drake R package. Bioinformatics Community Conference. 19-21 July 2020, virtual meeting.

    2020 - View publication details

  3. Ortega Polo, R., Gregoris, A., Tran, L., Vishwakarma, S. & Guarna, M. M. Evaluation of the impact of sequencing depth and choice of bioinformatics methods in the taxonomic and functional profiling of the honeybee (Apis mellifera) microbiome. 28th Conference on Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology. Virtual conference. July 13-16, 2020

    2020 - View publication details

  4. Bescucci, D.M., Moote, P.E., Polo, R.O., Uwiera, R.R.E., Inglis, G.D. (2020). Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhimurium Temporally Modulates the Enteric Microbiota and Host Responses To Overcome Colonization Resistance in Swine, 86(21),

    2020 - View publication details

  5. Zaheer, R., Lakin, S.M., Polo, R.O., Cook, S.R., Larney, F.J., Morley, P.S., Booker, C.W., Hannon, S.J., Van Domselaar, G., Read, R.R., McAllister, T.A. (2019). Comparative diversity of microbiomes and Resistomes in beef feedlots, downstream environments and urban sewage influent, 19(1),

    2019 - View publication details

Research facility

5403 1st Avenue South
Lethbridge, AB T1J 4B1


  • Member of the International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB)
  • Member of the Bioinformatics Network Alberta (BioNet Alberta)
  • Member of the Canadian Society of Microbiologists (CSM)
  • Member of the Bee Microbiome Consortium (BeeBiome)
  • Member of the Prevention of Honey Bee Colony Losses International Honey Bee Research Association (COLOSS)
  • AAFC Bioinformatics Research Support Network. Former Science & Technology co-chair and deputy co-chair.
  • Member of the AAFC Bioinformatics Directors Group (STB liaison)



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