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The Lab

We are a diverse lab that engages in many different research directions but the heart of our program is focused on plants and microbes. We are not afraid to take on a new challenge, and have extensive experience in the study of those most difficult of microorganisms, the obligate symbionts that require a living host to survive, and cannot be genetically transformed.




We gratefully acknowledge generous support from:


Dr. Allyson MacLean

I have always been fascinated by the ways in which organisms interact with one another, yet it has never been my life’s goal to become an academic researcher. I discovered my love of microbiology during my undergraduate thesis project in the lab of Dr. Turlough Finan at McMaster University, and I have never really left the lab since. I obtained my PhD in the Finan lab, submitting a thesis that explored the regulatory and metabolic systems of the legume endosymbiont, Sinorhizobium meliloti. As a Marie Curie Fellow, I joined the lab of Saskia Hogenhout at the prestigious John Innes Centre in Norwich, England, where I discovered my love of plant biology, leading an amazing project that focused on a bacterial effector protein - SAP54 - and its role in hijacking floral development in plants infected by the pathogen phytoplasma. With a desire to explore a mutualistic symbiosis, I next joined the lab of Maria Harrison at the Boyce Thompson Institute in Ithaca, New York, where I developed a method to apply RNASeq to analyze the expression of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in diverse symbiotic mutants of Medicago truncatula. In 2017, 15 years after I completed that honours thesis project in the Finan lab, I started my own lab at the University of Ottawa, an opportunity for which I am grateful every day. It is my goal to teach my students the diverse skills I have acquired in my many years as a plant microbiologist, but more importantly to use this platform to promote kindness, inclusion, and a respect for all living things.

We are particularly interested in beneficial and pathogenic symbiotic relationships that occur in roots, which are ‘out of sight, out of mind’ for most people, and yet have a profound effect on plant health. 

Keep up to date with new projects, exciting announcements, and opportunities at the lab. Here's where you can get a first look at the newest research being done by our group.

We are always looking for undergraduate students who are excited to learn more about plants and microbes! Please get in touch to learn more about opportunities to join our lab.

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