Professor John Mackay

Research Interests

Genetics and molecular biology of forest trees

Research in my group focuses on the adaptability of trees and forests, as relevant for sustainable use of forest lands. We use the tools of genetics and genomics to address these questions. The major themes are:

  • Genetic basis of adaptation: Role of gene expression variation in the adaptability of forest trees. Genes and genes networks that underpin responses to stress as well as growth and development
  • Forest health: Insect resistance in conifer trees.
  • Genetic basis of wood formation and properties: Regulation of gene expression in wood formation. Quantitative and association genetics of wood structure
  • Evolution of conifer genomes:  Genes and gene families. Copy number variation
  • Development of DNA-based tools for tree breeding: Insect resistance bio-markers in conifers. Genomic selection for wood and growth traits in spruce trees
  • Reference transcriptomes and comparative analyses of six species in the threatened rosewood genus Dalbergia.

  • Comparative Genomics, Pangenome, and Phylogenomic Analyses of Brenneria spp., and Delineation of Brenneria izadpanahii sp. nov.

  • Multiple Metabolic Innovations and Losses Are Associated with Major Transitions in Land Plant Evolution.

  • Identification and characterization of bacterial strains associated with diseased oak trees in Northern Iran

  • Hydroxyacetophenone defenses in white spruce against spruce budworm.

  • The large repertoire of conifer NLR resistance genes includes drought responsive and highly diversified RNLs.

  • Interactive effects of defoliation and water deficit on growth, water status, and mortality of black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) BSP)

  • Functional Analysis of the PgCesA3 White Spruce Cellulose Synthase Gene Promoter in Secondary Xylem.

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