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Graduate programs

Our M.Sc. and Ph.D. programs are research-based and focus on problems relating to applied and theoretical aspects of crop improvement and plant biology in a wide range of plant species. The subject areas covered are:

  • Bioinformatics
  • Conservation and evolutionary biology
  • Crop and vegetable production
  • Crop physiology
  • Environmetrics
  • Ethnobotany
  • Genomics
  • Horticulture
  • Molecular plant pathology
  • Mycology
  • Plant and landscape ecology
  • Plant breeding
  • Plant-insect/pathogen interactions
  • Plant systematics
  • Tissue culture
  • Weed biology and control

For more information on graduate options, please visit the following web sites: Neotropical Environment Option; and Environment Option; and Bioinformatics Option (BioOpt). For additional information on the Bioinformatics Option, please contact Dr. Martina Stromvik martina [dot] stromvik [at] mcgill [dot] ca.

Current and recent graduate students

Plant Protection

Geneviève Legault, Biological control of insect pests in cucumber

My master project focuses on alternative control methods of the Striped Cucumber Beetle (Acalymma vittatum): field trials with kaolin-particle film on cucumber crop, behavior of the beetle in contact with kaolin in choice and no-choice experiments, and impact of kaolin on cucumber plants. The striped cucumber beetle (SCB; Acalymma vittatum) is the main pest of cucurbits in Eastern Canada.

Cucumber beetles feeding on cucumber seedling.

Beetles cause damage by direct feeding on the young plants and by transmitting Erwinia tracheiphila, the causal agent of bacterial wilt. Our study looked at the potential of kaolin clay (Surround® WP) as an alternative method to control the beetles in cucumber crops.

Conservation and evolutionary biology

Annie Archambault, Identifying molecular processes specific to arctic Oxytropis plants compared to a close relative distributed in temperate areas

The purpose of the project is to identify molecular processes specific to arctic Oxytropis (Fabaceae) plants compared to a close relative distributed in the temperate area.

Annie Archambault a PhD student is seen here in Iqaluit.

Genes that are differentially expressed between arctic and temperate species will first be identified, promoter sequences for those genes will then be studied in order to further understand the regulation of this differential expression, and perhaps give insight in the evolutionary history of arctic plant adaptation.

Crop ecology / organic horticulture

Frédéric Thériault, Perennial leguminous living mulch in organic broccoli production

I am looking at alternative ways to fertilize organic vegetable crops. I am developing a perennial legume living mulch system in which vegetable crops with high nutrient requirements such as broccoli could be grown organically.

In Fredric's project, broccoli was grown in pure stand and in association with different perennial legumes.

I am using broccoli as a model crop to help develop living mulch systems that could be used by small scale organic farmers to introduce more legumes in their rotations, and thus reduce their dependence on composts; this while ensuring fulfillment of vegetable crops’ nitrogen requirements and satisfactory yields.

Plant and landscape ecology

Reto Schmucki, Forest herbs demography in agricultural landscapes

My research focuses on the demographic and ecological processes that drive the distribution and persistence of Trillium grandiflorum in forest fragments and hedgerows.

Reto Schmucki conducted controlled experiments on the pollination of Trillium grandiflorum

My scientific approach combines natural experiments, population monitoring, and mathematical modeling.

Crop physiology

John Keldeagh Lindsay, The role of plant hormones in plant-bacteria interaction

I am examining plant hormones and how they are affected by bacterial signaling molecules present in the plant-bacteria interaction of legumes and rhizobia. Salicylic acid and enzymes of the flavonoid biosynthesis pathway are of particular interest.

Ethnobotany

Julie Bélanger, The relationship between carotenoid intake and cataracts in Indian population

Green leafy vegetables (GLV) consumption has been linked with improved eye health. In India, GLV consumption is very low and cataract incidence very high. We want to identify and analyse local GLV for contents of carotenoids that have proven beneficial to eye health.

Exploring the relationship between carotenoid intake from green leafy vegetables and cataracts.

I am undertaking a field and laboratory project in India exploring the relationship between carotenoid intake in GLV and cataracts.

Weed biology and control

Julien Venne, Diversity assessment of Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. striga races and examination of their ability to colonize agricultural soils of Benin

I am studying the migration, dispersal and persistence of Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. Striga, a biocontrol agent of the root-hemiparasitic weed Striga hermonthica.

Diversity assessment of Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. striga races and examination of their ability to colonize agricultural soils

Other projects include the assessment of the genetic variability between different isolates of the fungus and the enhancement of its virulence through over-expression of amino acids.

Evan Sivesind, Investigating the use of thermal weed control in vegetable crops

The purpose of this project is to investigate the use of selective propane flaming as a method of weed control in vegetable crops. In order to make this evaluation, we need to be able to rate the effectiveness of flame cultivation as a form of weed control, as well as understand any unintended effects it may have on the growth and physiology of the crop present. A number of experiments have been designed intending to answer these questions.

Investigating the use of thermal weed control in vegetable crops

Weed and crop susceptibility to flaming at a range of energy doses will be determined. With respect to weeds, this will be accomplished with the creation of dose response curves for relevant weed species at various stages during growth. In regards to crops, yield, visual assessment of damage, and changes in growth and maturity will be assessed. Additionally, the effect of flame cultivation on aspects of chemical composition of onion (flavonoid content) and broccoli (glucosinolate content) will be explored.

Plant-insect/pathogen interactions

Laurent Acoca, Molecular interaction between the pathogenic fungus Rhizoctonia solani and the potato plant

Our research focuses on plant/microbe interaction, more specifically on Rhizoctonia solani, the anamorph of the teleomorph Thanatephorus cucumeris which is species complex responsible for the destruction of many important crops through out the world.

Molecular interaction between the pathogenic fungus Rhizoctonia solani and the potato plant

We aim to estimate by quantitative reverse transcription (QRT)–PCR, alteration of selected fungal and plant gene expression during interaction between R. solani and potato sprouts.

For more information

For detailed information and admission requirements, visit the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies web site, or contact us directly (see below).

As of October 2012, McGill’s formerly paper-based graduate application process has been replaced with a more convenient electronic version.  For detailed instructions on how to apply and how to upload required supporting documents in the new version, please see:  http://www.mcgill.ca/gradapplicants/apply/prepare

Plant Science Graduate Program Coordinator

carolyn [dot] bowes [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Carolyn Bowes)
Room R2-024
Raymond Building
Macdonald, McGill University
21,111 Lakeshore Road
Ste-Anne-De-Bellevue, Quebec H9X 3V9

Tel.: 514-398-7560
Fax: 514-398-7897