March 22, 2017

Our paper "Non-invasive ethylene quantification in attached fruit headspace at 1 part per billion by gas chromatography – mass spectrometry" accepted for publication in The Plant Journal

Our manuscript for measuring ethylene in attached fruit has been accepted in the "technical advance" category at The Plant Journal.

This paper goes a long way towards bringing high sensitivity ethylene detection into the labs of non-specialists who may only have access to a conventional single quadrupole GC-MS system. A creative "in situ" headspace sampling strategy together with several technical improvements and chromatographic trickery have led to a substantial improvement in sensitivity compared to more traditional GC-FID methods. With this technique, researchers can count on a level of sensitivity normally only achieved with a dedicated optical sensor, which comes with a host of technical problems all its own. Now we can enjoy the same sensitivity but with the robust performance of a mature technology like GC-MS.

Lead author Lara Pereira, completing her PhD at the Center for Research in Agricultural Genomics in Barcelona, Spain, when informed of the news, said: "Estoy contentísima!" Congratulations, Lara, and may there be many more.

This article will be available online in about two weeks. I will post a link to it here when it is available.

Update: Here is the link to the accepted online version.

John R. Evans Leaders Fund Awarded to the Phillips lab for plant metabolism research

I was recently named a John R. Evans Leaders Fund recipient and awarded $140,000 to fund infrastructure for my plant metabolomics platform.

The title of the project is "Control and adaptive responses of the plant metabolome".

This award will go towards the purchase of a triple quad - ion trap mass spectrometer, a versatile instrument that will be the centerpiece of the whole plant, isotopic labeling studies that make up the core of my research program.

Thanks to the UTM Department of Biology for their assistance in preparing my application and to Denise Durie in the UTM Procurement office for her help in navigating the public bid process to acquire this instrument.

Research and Scholarly Activity Fund grant awarded to Phillips lab

Back in January, the University of Toronto - Mississauga awarded me a small pilot grant to study essential oil biosynthesis in non-model plants.

The title of the project is: "New plant essential oil genes and their use in food safety".

Among the many uses of essential oils, some have potent anti-bacterial effects and are especially effective against food borne pathogens such as Listeria and Salmonella. The first step in elaborating a biotechnological approach to reducing food borne illnesses with essential oils is to elucidate their biosynthetic pathways in plants. This UTM-sponsered pilot grant is designed to pave the way for a larger industry-academic collaboration in the future.

Currently, student Matthew Bergman, working through the Research Opportunity Program, has been leading this project in the lab and will present his first results in a poster at the BIO481 undergraduate research symposium here on the UTM campus on April 4, 2017. Good luck, Matthew!