Alan K. Watson

Image by Alex Tran.

Professor Emeritus

T: 514-398-7858  | alan.watson [at] (Email) |  Raymond Building R2-026D


BSc (Agr)
MSc (BC)
PhD (Sask)

Short Bio

Alan Watson was born and raised on a mixed farm in the interior of British Columbia. He attended the University of British Columbia for BSc (Agr) and MSc degrees. His PhD degree was obtained from the University of Saskatchewan and he came directly to McGill University to begin his professorial career.

Awards and Recognitions

Médaille de distinction agronomique (1985), Ordre des Agronomes du Québec.
Excellence in Weed Science Award (1988), Expert Committee on Weeds, Eastern Canada Section.
Outstanding Young Weed Scientist Award (1989), Weed Science Society of America.
Best Paper Award (1993), Weed Science Society of the Philippines.
Best Paper Award (1997), 16th Asian Pacific Weed Science Conference, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Outstanding Paper Award in Weed Technology (2002), Weed Science Society of America.
Fellow of the Weed Science Society of America (2003).
Founder, SARRITOR INC (2004) a start-up biotechnology company based in Montreal, Canada specializing in the development and commercialization of bioherbicides for weed control.


Centre SÈVE
International Bioherbicide Group
Weed Science Society of America

Research interests









Non chemical means to control weeds. Dr Alan Watson and his Weed Research Group have been developing biological weed control strategies using the weed's own natural enemies to control the weed. The goals of Dr Watson's research program are to understand the processes involved in host (weed) pathogen interactions, to investigate mechanisms involved in disease development and weed host response, and to use this knowledge to select, develop, and implement effective, safe, and sustainable means to reduce the negative impact of major noxious weeds in rural, urban, and natural environments.


Velvetleaf (Abutilon theophrasti), dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) and common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) are the major temperate species being studied in Canada. A bioherbicide product has been commercialized for control of dandelion (photo at left) and other broadleaved weeds in turfgrass. Research has gone beyond Canada into Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa to investigate biological methods for less developed nations and subsistence farmers. Significant progress towards effective biocontrol strategies for several rice weeds in Southeast Asia and a possible solution for Striga (witchweed) (photo at right), the major threat to African cereal crops, have been achieved.

  • Production, formulation, and field testing of the Sclerotinia minor bioherbicide.
  • Impact of biofumigation on weed ecology



View a list of current publications

Select Publications

Bae J, Benoit DL & Watson AK.  2016. Effect of heavy metals on seed germination and seedling growth of common ragweed and roadside ground cover legumes. Environmental Pollution 213, 112–118.

Zhou Z, Rasmann S, Guo J, Watson A, Zheng H, Guo W, Wan F. 2015. Mating frequency positively associates with fitness in Ophraella communa. Ecological Entomology 40(3), 292-298.

Zimmermann J, Rasche F, du Plessis M, Musyoki M, Viljoen A, Watson A, Beed F, Cadisch G, Gorfer M. 2015. An explicit AFLP-based marker for monitoring Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. strigae in tropical soils. Biological Control 89, 42–52.

Bae J, Byun C, Watson AK, & Benoit DL. 2015. Ground cover species selection to manage common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia L.) in roadside edge of highway. Plant Ecology 216 (2), 263-271.

Bae J, Mercier G, Watson AK, & Benoit DL. 2014. Seed germination test for heavy metal phytotoxicity assessment. Canadian Journal of Plant Science, 94:1519-1521.

Watson, A.K. and K. Bailey 2013. Taraxacum officinale Weber, Dandelion (Asteraceae). Ch. 58 in Biological Control Programmes in Canada 2001-2012, (eds. Mason P and Gillespie D), CABI Publishing, Wallingford, UK, pp. 383-391.

Watson, A.K. and M.S. Teshler 2013. Ambrosia artemisiifolia L., Common Ragweed (Asteraceae) Ch. 43 in Biological Control Programmes in Canada 2001-2012, (eds. Mason P and Gillespie D), CABI Publishing, Wallingford, UK, pp. 296-392.

 Watson, A.K. 2013. Biocontrol. Ch. 26 in Parasitic Orobanchaceae - Parasitic Mechanisms and Control Strategies, (eds. Joel, D.M., Gressel, J. and Musselman, L.J.), Springer, Heidelberg, pp. 469-497.

Jinek, A., Simard, M., Brière, S.C., Watson, A.K., Tweddell, R.J., & Rioux, D. 2011. Foliage susceptibility of six eastern Canadian forest tree species to Phytophthora ramorum. Can. J. Plant Pathol. 33(1), 26 – 37

Pan, L., Ash, G.J., Ahn, B. & Watson, A.K. 2010. Development of strain specific molecular markers for the Sclerotinia minor bioherbicide strain IMI 344141, Biocontrol Science & Technology 20(9), 939-959,

Abu-Dieyeh, M.H., Shaheen, I.Y., & Watson, A.K. 2010. Effect of plant age and turfgrass competition on the efficacy of the Sclerotinia minor granular bioherbicide on broadleaf plantain and prostrate knotweed. Biocontrol Science & Technology 20(2), 213-226.

Shaheen, I.Y., Abu-Dieyeh, M.H., Ash, G.J., & Watson, A.K. 2010. Physiological characterization of the dandelion bioherbicide, Sclerotinia minor IMI 344141. Biocontrol Science & Technology 20(1), 57-76.

Venne, J., Beed, F., Avocanh, A. & Watson, A. 2009. Integrating Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. strigae into cereal cropping systems in Africa. Pest Management Science 65(5): 572-580.

Abu-Dieyeh, M.H. & Watson, A.K. 2009. Increasing the efficacy and extending the effective application period of a granular turf bioherbicide by covering with jute fabric. Weed Technology 23(4):524-530.

Abu-Dieyeh, M.H. & Watson, A.K. 2007. Grass over-seeding and a fungus combine to control Taraxacum officinale. Journal of Applied Ecology 44(1):115–124.

Abu-Dieyeh, M.H. & Watson, A.K. 2007. Efficacy of Sclerotinia minor for dandelion control: effect of dandelion accession, age and grass competition. Weed Research 47(1):63-72.

Abu-Dieyeh, M.H. & Watson, A.K. 2006. Effect of turfgrass mowing height on biocontrol of dandelion with Sclerotinia minor. Biocontrol Science & Technology 16 (5):509-524.

Dauch, A.L., A.K. Watson, P. Seguin, and S.H. Jabaji-Hare. 2006. Real-time PCR quantification of Colletotrichum coccodes DNA in bioherbicide release field soils with normalization for PCR inhibition. Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology 28(1):42-51.

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