Danielle J. Donnelly

Associate Professor

Director, Barbados Interdisciplinary Tropical Studies Program (BITS)

T: 514-398-7856  |  danielle.donnelly [at] mcgill.ca (Email)  |  Raymond Building, R2-023A


BSc(Agr) (McGill)
PhD (Simon Fraser)

Short Bio

Professor Danielle Donnelly is a long-standing member of the Plant Science Dept. at McGill, where she teaches and conducts research with undergraduate and graduate students. She teaches Plant Propagation and various Undergraduate Research courses; videos prepared by her students can be viewed here. Prof. Donnelly’s research relates to plant tissue culture technologies for clonal plant improvement, and lab and field-based screening for improved genotypes of table stock and processing cultivars of potato. She works closely with experts in potato technology both in industry and in government. Recent contributions have highlighted new technologies for potato improvement, based on somatic variation. Current efforts to screen potato genotypes for improved phytonutrients involve collaborators in the School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition and Canadian potato breeding agencies. Prof. Donnelly also directs McGill’s summer field study program in Barbados (Barbados Interdisciplinary Tropical Studies or BITS, for short). A synopsis of the BITS program and related projects in Barbados can be viewed at this site.

Awards and Recognitions

2012: Outstanding Paper Award from the Potato Association of America for Nassar et al., 2011 Intraclonal selection for improved processing of NB ‘Russet Burbank’ potato Am J Potato Res 387-397.

Research Interests

Dr. Danielle Donnelly's research focuses on in vitro technologies for genetic improvement of both table and processing cultivars of potato. Field-based selection of somaclonal variants is used for improvement of tuber yield and type while lab-based selections are applied for better storage and phytochemical characters. Dr. Donnelly has extensive research experience in micropropagation and hydroponic technologies, germplasm storage, and certification programs for clonally propagated species.

Watch video on Dr. Donnelly's potato research.

Current Research

Somaclonal selection for improved processing and phytonutrient composition of cultivated potato (Solanum tubersosum L.). Screening table stock cultivars for improved nutrients for Canadian breeding programs.


AEBI 421 Trop. Horticultural Ecology 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

AEBI 427 Barbados Interdisc Project 6 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

PLNT 310 Plant Propagation 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

PLNT 351 Course not available

SPECIAL TOPICS COURSES are always available on request for Fall, Winter or Summer (includes Barbados Special Topics projects) semesters

FAES 313 Special Topics 03 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

FAES 323 Special Topics 04 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

Other Internship, Honours, and Special Topics Courses also available

Download Special Topics approval form

Watch videos from Plant Propagation 2016

Watch PLNT 351 Special Topics Student Videos

Ficus Propagation and Braiding (Carl Dion Laplante) - Download summary
Peperomia and Variegation (Amy Foss) - Download summary
Cactus Grafting (Cassandre Denis) - Download summary


View a list of current publications online

Select Publications

Potato and Human Health

Role of Potato in Human Health

  • Lovat., C-A., A.M.K. Nassar, S. Kubow., X.-Q. Li, and D.J. Donnelly. 2015. Metabolic biosynthesis of potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) antioxidants and implications for human health. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.
  • Nassar, A.M.K., K. Sabally, S. Kubow, Y. Leclerc, and D.J. Donnelly (2012) Some Canadian-grown potato cultivars contribute a substantial content of essential dietary minerals. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 60: 4688-4696.
  • Camire, M., S. Kubow & D.J. Donnelly. 2009. Potatoes and human health. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 49:823-840 (Review article).

Potatoes and Nutrient Content

  • Singh, A., K. Sebally, S. Kubow, D.J. Donnelly, Y. Gariepy, V. Orsat, and G.S.V. Raghavan. 2011. Microwave-assisted extraction of phenolic antioxidants from potato peels. Molecules 16:2218-2232. 
  • Singh, A., K. Sebally, S. Kubow, D.J. Donnelly, V. Orsat, and G.S.V. Raghavan. 2010. Optimization of microwave assisted extraction of antioxidants from potato peel. XVIIth World  Congress of the International Commission of Agricultural Engineering (CIGR). Canadian Society for Bioengineering Section IV: Postharvest Technology and Process Engineering. Quebec City, Canada. June 13-17, 2010.
  • Oritz-Medina, E., V. Sosle, V. Raghavan & D.J. Donnelly. 2009. A method for intercultivar comparison of potato tuber nutrient content using specific tissue weight proportions. J. Food Science. 74:S177-S181.
  • Zhang, Y., M. Fortin, D.J. Donnelly & X.-Q. Li. 2007. Constitutive expression of a new proteinase inhibitor II family gene in potato. Canada-China Special Issue on Potato. J. Huazhong Agr. Univ. 26:71-75.
  • Oritz-Medina, E. & D.J. Donnelly, 2003. Total soluble proteins vary between cultivars in fresh and stored tubers. Symposium 3, Potatoes, Healthy Food for Humanity. Int. Hort Congress. Toronto, August 11-17, 2002. Acta Horticulturae 619:263-269.

Genetic Variation through Tissue Culture

Somaclonal Technology for Potato Improvement

  • Nassar, A.M.K., S. Kubow, and D.J. Donnelly. (2014) Somatic embryogenesis for potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) improvement. Chapter 8 In: Somatic Genome Manipulation. Springer.
  • Nassar, A.M.K., S. Kubow, Y. Leclerc, and D.J. Donnelly. (2014) Somatic mining for phytonutrient improvement of ‘Russet Burbank’ potato. Am. J. of Potato Res.91:89-100 
  • Nassar, A.M.K., J. Abdulnour, Y. Leclerc, X-Q. Li, & D.J. Donnelly. 2011. Intraclonal selection for improved processing of NB 'Russet Burbank' potato. Am. J. Potato Res. 88:387-397.  (Winner of the Potato Association of America’s “Outstanding Paper Award for 2012”).

Testing Periclinal Chimeral Theory with Somaclones

  • Nassar, A.M.K., E. Oritz-Medina, Y.N. Leclerc & D.J. Donnelly. 2008. Periclinal chimeral status of New Brunswick ‘Russet Burbank’ potato. Am. J. Potato Res. 85:432-437.

Genetic Risk Through Micropropagation

  • Oritz-Medina, E. & D. J. Donnelly. 2005. Micropropagation and genetic risk: securing clonal fidelity. P 45-53 In: Proceedings of the International Workshop on True-to-Typeness of Date Palm Tissue Culture-Derived Plants. Marrakech, Morocco, 23-25 May, 2005. Joint publication of the FAO, Date Palm Global Network, UAE University, United Arab Emirates.

Canadian Certification Programs

Potato and Evolution

  • Li, X-Q., T. Zhang, & D.J. Donnelly. 2011. Selective loss of cysteine residues and disulphide bonds in a potato proteinase inhibitor II family. PLosONE 6:e18615. 

Crop Certification & Variety Protection

  • Donnelly, D.J., & A. Dale. 2014. Concept and Laboratory Exercise; Crop Certification Programs and the Production of Specific Pathogen Free Plants. Chap. XIV In: Plant Propagation Concepts and Laboratory Exercises. 2nd Edition. Ed. C. Beyl, R. Trigiano & J. Preece. CRC Press, Boca Raton.
  • Dale, A., B.R. Hughes & D.J. Donnelly. 2008. The role of micropropagation in producing specific pathogen-tested plants. HortScience. 43:74-77.
  • Hughes, B., A. Dale & D.J. Donnelly. 2008. Micropropagation in the Ontario strawberry plant propagation program. P. 130-135 In: Proceedings of the North American Strawberry Symposium, Feb. 9-12, 2007. Ventura CA, U.S. Ed. Takeda, F., D.F., Handley & E.B. Poling.
  • Riché, B. & D.J. Donnelly. 2006. Plant Variety Protection in Canada. In: Principles of Plant Genetics and Breeding. Blackwell, Oxford, U.K.

Potato Cultivar Identification

  • Li, X.-Q., M. Haroon, S.E. Coleman, A. Sullivan, M. Singh, L. Ward, S.H. DeBoer, T. Zhang & D.J. Donnelly. 2008. Simplified procedure for verifying and identifying potato cultivars using multiplex PCR. Canadian J Plant Science 88: 583-592.

Potatoes and Salinity Tolerance

Salt Tolerance in Potato (Review Article)

  • Donnelly, D.J., S.O. Prasher & R.M. Patel 2007. Towards the Development of Salt Tolerant Potato. Chapter 11 In: Potato Biology and Biotechnology: Advances and Perspectives, Eds. MacKerron, D. and H. Ross, Scottish Crop Research Institute Elsevier, UK.

In Vitro or Lysimeter Studies on Potato; Salinity Stress

  • Zhang, Y., J.E. Abdulnour, D.J. Donnelly & N.N. Barthakur, 2001. ‘Norland’ tuber yields are not affected by salinity treatment of parent plants. HortScience 36:770-771.
  • Kalifa, A., D.J. Donnelly & N.N. Barthakur, 2000. Phosphorus reduces salinity stress in micropropagated potato. Am J Potato Res 77:179-182.
  • Patel, R.M., S.O. Prasher, D.J. Donnelly & R.B. Bonnell, 2000. Effect of initial soil salinity and subirrigation water salinity on potato tuber yield and size. Agric Water Manage 1573:1-9.
  • Patel, R.M., S.O. Prasher, D.J. Donnelly R.B. Bonnell & R.S. Broughton, 1999. Subirrigation with brackish water for vegetable production in arid regions. Bioresource Technol 70:33-37.
  • Alhagdow, M.M., N.N. Barthakur & D.J. Donnelly, 1999. Salinity tolerance and sodium-potassium interactions in micropropagated potato. Potato Res 42:73-78.
  • Khrais, T., Y. Leclerc & D. J. Donnelly, 1998. Relative salinity tolerance of potato cultivars assessed by in vitro screening. Am J Potato Res 75:207-210.
  • Zhang, Y. & D.J. Donnelly, 1997. In vitro ranking for salinity tolerance of potato cultivars. Potato Res 40:285-295.

Potatoes and Calcium Uptake

In Vitro Studies

  • Habib, A., J. Abdulnour & D.J. Donnelly, 2005/6. Increased calcium availability improves potato micropropagation and microtuberization. Potato Res 47:139-150.
  • Arvin, M.J., A. Habib & D.J. Donnelly, 2005. Effects of calcium concentration in medium on microtuberization of potato (Solanum tuberosum L.). Iranian J Biotech 3:152-156.
  • Habib, A. & D.J. Donnelly, 2005. Stimulation of 45Ca2+ uptake into micropropagated potato plantlets by UV light and vitamin D3. Am J Potato Res 82:191-196.
  • Habib, A. & D.J. Donnelly, 2003. Vitamin Ds improve calcium uptake in micropropagated potato plantlets. Symposium 3, Potatoes, Healthy Food for Humanity. Int. Hort Congress. Toronto August 11-17, 2002. Acta Horticulturae 619:323-328.
  • Habib, A. & D.J. Donnelly. 2002. Calcium translocation and accumulation into potato tubers. Potato Res 45:17-24.
  • Barthakur, N.N., D.J. Donnelly & A. Habib, 2002. Transfer of calcium-45 and strontium-90 from medium to plant and their translocation in micropropagated potato. Proceedings of the International Congress on the Radioecology-Ecotoxicology of Continental and Estuarine Environments. 3-7 Sept. 2001, Aix-en-Provence, France. F. Brechignac (Ed.) Radioprotection-colloques Vol. 37. EDP Sciences, France.
  • Abdulnour, J.E., D.J. Donnelly & N.N. Barthakur, 2000. The effect of boron on growth and calcium uptake in micropropagated potato plantlets. Potato Res 43:287-295.
  • Abdulnour, J.E., D.J. Donnelly & N.N. Barthakur, 1998. Enhanced calcium uptake in micropropagated potato plantlets by macroelement dilution. J. Plant Nutr. Soil Sci.161:81-85.
  • Abdulnour, J.E., D.J. Donnelly & N.N. Barthakur, 1998. Cation and total macroelement concentrations influence Ca uptake in micropropagated potato plants. J. Plant Nutr. Soil Sci. 161:613-617.

Potatoes and Microtuber Technology

  • Donnelly, D.J., S.E. Coleman & W.K. Coleman, 2003. Potato microtuber production and performance: A review. Am J Potato Res 80:103-115.
  • Coleman, W.K., D.J. Donnelly & S.E. Coleman, 2001. Potato microtubers as research tools: A review. Am J Potato Res 78:47-55.

Red Raspberry and Freezing Stress

  • Palonen, P., D. Buszard & D.J. Donnelly, 2000. Changes in carbohydrates and freezing tolerance during cold acclimation of red raspberry cultivars grown in vitro and in vivo. Physiol Plant, 110:393-401.
  • Palonen, P., D. Buszard & D.J. Donnelly, 1999. Two approaches to in vitro screening of raspberry cultivars for cold hardiness. Acta Hortic 505:191-198. Proc 7th Int Rubus/Ribes Symp, January 9-16, 1998, Melbourne, Australia.


Support CERES

Dr. Donnelly supports CERES and encourages McGill undergraduate student participation in this important group. Through plant sales over the past few years, CERES has raised considerable funds for greenhouse improvements and campus green projects.

Facebook | Website | ceres.macdonald [at] gmail.com (Email)