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

  • Comparative Genomics, Pangenome, and Phylogenomic Analyses of the Brenneria spp., Delineation of the Brenneriaizadpanahii 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.

  • Genetic control and evolutionary potential of a constitutive resistance mechanism against the spruce budworm (Choristoneura fumiferana) in white spruce (Picea glauca).

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