T: 514-398-7561 | suha.jabaji [at] mcgill.ca (Email) | Raymond Building, R2-027 | Website
BSc (American University of Beirut)
Suha Jabaji obtained her PhD in 1985 from the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada following undergraduate studies at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon and graduate studies at Guelph University, Ontario, Canada. Between 1987-1992, she held post-doctoral and Research Associate positions at Laval University, Quebec, Canada. Suha Jabaji joined McGill in 1992 and her research expertise deals with genomics and metabolomics of fungal pathogens. Between 2005-2015, she served as the Associate Dean Research of the Faculty of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences and represented her faculty on many university advisory or task force committees that report to the VP-RIR. She currently serves as Past-President of the International Rhizoctonia Subject Matter Committee whose mandate is to coordinate international effort towards effective communication among Rhizoctonia scientists and promote exchange of resources and ideas among scientists. She also serves on the editorial board of the Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology.
Chair, International Subject Matter Rhizoctonia Committee (IRC)
My research is focused on understanding how plant pathogens invade their hosts on one hand and on the other how they defend themselves when they are exposed to abiotic stress conditions such as oxidative stress. These interactions are interesting in terms of protein and metabolite richness and can serve as models for the development and standardization of high-throughput “omics” methods. This new area of research involves bioinformatics, genomics, proteomics and metabolomics-based methods and is beginning to provide new insights into many fundamental research questions. The ultimate goal of my research program is to generate knowledge that will result in the deployment of improved approaches to reduce economic losses to plant disease while promoting increased productivity and sustainability.
My laboratory is interested in understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms that modulate plant-pathogen, plant-endophytes and mycoparasite-pathogen interactions. For many years we have studied the pathogen Rhizoctonia solani an economically important pathogen of agricultural and forestry crops world-wide. Research in my lab is currently focused on understanding the genetic and molecular basis of how R. solani invades its hosts on one hand and on the other how it defends itself when it is invaded by another fungus or when it is exposed to abiotic stress conditions such as oxidative stress. These interactions are interesting in terms of protein and metabolite richness and can serve as models for the development and standardization of high-throughput “omics” methods. This new area of research involves bioinformatics, genomics, proteomics and metabolomics-based methods and is beginning to provide new insights into many fundamental research questions. The ultimate goal of my research program is to generate knowledge that will result in the deployment of improved approaches to reduce economic losses to plant disease while promoting increased productivity and sustainability.
Graduate students, PDFs, Research Assistants and Research Associates in my laboratory work on three themes:
Plant-pathogen interactions: Diseases develop in plants due to inadequate defenses or to pathogen strategies that by-pass them. Some microbes have evolved highly specialized tactics to suppress plant defenses, thus providing the pathogen with a higher weaponry level. The molecular and biochemical mechanisms of such suppression remain unclear and my program is focused to understand the biochemical mechanisms by which the fungal pathogen overcomes plant defenses which will facilitate the development of alternative crop protection strategies (e.g., new targets for fungicides) and possibly biomarker-assisted plant breeding. RNAseq and metabolic profiling, construction of metabolic network (left panel) and integration of transcriptomics and metabolomics (right panel) are tools applied to address the above.
Pathogen-mycoparasite interactions: Focusing on interactions of Rhizoctonia solani with a fungal mycoparasite, a sequence of events will determine compatibility and consequently pathogenesis (left panel). Therefore, time-course study of fluctuations of fungal proteome and metabolome could provide insights into key mechanisms that regulate their metabolism. We identified pathogen-response genes and metabolites, providing evidence that the parasitized hyphae and sclerotia of the R. solani respond to the attack by triggering different transcriptional patterns of genes belonging to cellular respiration, vitamin metabolism and transduction pathways. Since signal transduction pathway is crucial in the regulation of mycoparasitism-related processes, a mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) homologue gene from the mycoparasite was fully characterized. Metabolomics analysis (right panel) showed that several antifungal secondary compounds (e.g., diketopiperazine(s) (DKPs) ethyl 2-phenylacetate, and 3-nitro-4-hydroxybenzoic acid) were produced in Rhizoctonia in response to attack, while several mycoparasite-derived mycotoxins (e.g.,trichothecenes and atranones) were identified during mycoparasitism.
Plant-endophyte interactions: Recent molecular studies on diversity of endophytic organisms have revealed a large richness of species. Dicots and monocots harbor a diversity of fungal and bacterial endophytes. These organisms promote plant growth and yield, suppress pathogens, may help to remove contaminants, solubilize phosphate, or contribute assimilable nitrogen to plants. Some endophytes are seedborne, but others have mechanisms to colonize the plants that are being studied. We have isolated and fully several fungal and bacterial endphytes from bioenergy and industrial crops. Some had growth promoting and biological control capabilities in several grass crops. Current research using various 'omic’ platforms is aimed at elucidating the mechanisms by which endophytes induce systemic resistance to plants against biotic and abiotic stress.
Current Research Projects
- Oxidative stress mechanisms of Fungal pathogens
- Bacterial and fungal endophytes of industrial and bioenergy crops
- Functional genomics of fungal Soybean diseases
- Mechanisms of Mycoparasitism
- Bioprospecting of novel antimicrobial compounds
View a list of current publications
Jeukens J, Kukavica-Ibrulj I, Freschi L, Jabaji S, Levesque, R. 2015. Draft genome sequences of two lipopeptide producer strains of Bacillus methylotrophicus. Genome Announcements (in press).
Chamoun, R, Aliferis KA, Jabaji S. 2015. Identification of signatory secondary metabolites during mycoparasitism of Rhizoctonia solani by Stachybotrys elegans. Frontiers in Microbiology. 6:353. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2015.00353
Gagne-Bourque F, Mayer BF, Charron JB, Vali H, Bertrand A, Jabaji S. 2015. Accelerated growth rate and increased drought stress resilience of the model grass Brachypodium distachyon colonized by Bacillus subtilis B26. PlosOne 10(6): e0130456. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0130456.
Aliferis KA, Chamoun R, Jabaji S. 2015. Metabolic Responses of Willow (Salix purpurea L.) Leaves to Mycorrhization as Revealed by Mass Spectrometry and 1H NMR Spectroscopy Metabolite Profiling. Frontiers in Plant Science. Ddoi: 10.3389/fpls.2015.00344
Copley TR, Aliferis KA, Jabaji S. 2015. Maple bark biochar affects Rhizoctonia solani metabolism and increases damping-off severity. 2015. Phytopathology DOI: 10.1094/PHYTO-08-14-0231-R
Cubeta MA, Thomas, E, Dean RA, Jabaji S et al. 2014. Draft Genome Sequence of the Plant-Pathogenic Soil Fungus Rhizoctonia solani Anastomosis Group 3 Strain Rhs1AP. Genome A. vol. 2 no. 5 e01072-14
Aliferis KA, Faubert D, Jabaji S. 2014. A Metabolic Profiling Strategy for the Dissection of Plant Defense against Fungal Pathogens. Plos One DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0111930.
Chamoun R, Samsatly J, Pakal, SB, Cubeta MA, Jabaji S. 2014. Suppression subtractive hybridization and comparative expression of a pore‑forming toxin and glycosyl hydrolase genes in Rhizoctonia solani during potato sprout infection. Mol. Genet. Genomics. DOI 10.1007/s00438-014-0962.
Chamoun R, Aliferis KA, Jabaji S. 2013. Characterization and transcriptional regulation of Stachybotrys elegans mitogen activated MAP kinase gene smkA, following mycoparasitism and starvation conditions. Current Genetics 59:43–54.
Gagne-Bourque F, Aliferis KA, Seguin P, Samson R, Jabaji S. 2012. Isolation and characterization of indigenous endophytic bacteria associated with leaves of swtichgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) cultivars. Journal of Applied Microbiology 114: 836-853. doi:10.1111/jam.12088.
Aliferis KA, Cubeta MA, Jabaji S. 2013. Chemotaxonomy of fungi in the Rhizoctonia solani species complex performing GC/MS metabolite profiling. Metabolomics, 9(1): 159-169.
Aliferis K, Jabaji S. 2012. FT-ICR/MS and GC-EI/MS metabolomics networking unravels global potato sprout's responses to Rhizoctonia solani infection. PloS One 7(8): e42576. (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0042576).
Aliferis, K, Jabaji S. 2012. Deciphering plant-pathogen interactions applying metabolomics: Principles and applications. Can. J. Plant Pathology. 34: 29-33