Sheila M. Macfie 2017-09-06T10:26:26+00:00

Project Description


  • Mechanisms of metal-tolerance in plants


  • Western University
    Biological & Geological Sciences 2051
    London, Ontario, Canada
    N6A 5B7

  • (519) 661-2111 x86487


Associate Professor
Department of Biology, Western University

My students and I investigate the mechanisms of metal-tolerance in plants from an eco-physiological perspective. We are interested in everything from the rhizosphere to intracellular compartmentation.

Many plants have a remarkable ability to withstand high concentrations of potentially toxic metals in their environment. A better understanding of the biochemical and physiological mechanisms that permit such tolerance may provide valuable information regarding the use of plants to restore contaminated areas.

Current projects involve edible plants, including wheat (Triticum spp) barley (Hordeum vulgare) and lettuce (Lactuca Sativa), as well as Arabidopsis thaliana. The approaches that we are taking include: (1) investigate the production and exudation of organic compounds as a mechanism to detoxify metal ions, (2) determine the localization of metal ions at the subcellular level, (3) model the movement of metals from the soil into the plant and, (4) identify the relationship between metal toxicity and a number of biochemical pathways that mediate plant stress.

Akhter, Mst.F., Omelon, C., Gordon, R.A., Moser, D. and Macfie, S.M. In Press. Localization and chemical speciation of cadmium in the roots of barley and lettuce.  Environmental and Experimental Botany accepted Dec 4, 2013.

Konopka, J.K., K. Hanyu, S.M. Macfie and J.N. McNeil. 2013 The response of insect herbivores to cadmium depends on their feeding strategy. Chemical Ecology 39:546-554. DOI: 10.1007/s10886-013-0273-4

Martin, R.R., S.J. Naftel, S.M. Macfie, K.W. Jones and A. Nelson. 2013  Lead distribution in bones from the Franklin expedition: synchrotron X-ray fluorescence and laser ablation/mass spectroscopy. Applied Physics A 111:23-29 DOI: 10.1007/s00339-013-7579-5.

Akhter, M.F., McGarvey, B.and Macfie, S.M. 2012. Reduced translocation of Cd from roots is associated with increased production of phytochelatins and their precursors. Journal of Plant Physiology 169:1821-1829. DOI 10.1016/j.jplph.2012.07.011.

Akhter, M.F., and Macfie, S.M. 2012.  Species-specific relationship between transpiration and cadmium translocation in lettuce, barley and radish. Journal of Plant Studies 1:2-13. DOI 10.5539/jps.v1n1p2.

Quinn, C.J., Mohammad, A. and Macfie, S.M. 2011. Accumulation of cadmium in near-isogenic lines of durum wheat (Triticum turgidum L. var durum): the role of transpiration. Physiol. Mol. Biol. Plants 17:317-325, doi 10.1007/s12298-011-0086-2

Murray, H., Pinchin, T. and Macfie, S.M. 2011. Compost application affects metal uptake in plants grown in urban garden soils and potential human health risk. Journal of Soils and Sediments 11:815-829, doi 10.1007/s11368-011-0359-y.

Adeniji, B.A., Budimir-Hussey, M. and S.M. Macfie. 2010. Production of organic acids and adsorption of Cd on roots of durum wheat (Triticum turgidum L. var durum). Acta Physiol. Plant. 32:1063-1073 doi : 10.1007/s11738-010-0498-6

Murray, H., Thompson, K. and S.M. Macfie.  2009.  Site- and species-specific patterns of metal bioavailability in edible plants.  Botany doi 10.1139/BO9-019.

Zhu, R., Macfie, S., Ding, Z. 2008.  Effects of cadmium on photosynthetic oxygen evolution from single stomata in Brassica juncea (L.) Czern”. Langmuir 24:14261-14268.

Naftel, S.J. R.R. Martin, S.M. Macfie, F. Courchesne, and V. Séguin. 2007.  An investigation of metals at the soil/root interface using synchrotron radiation analysis. Canadian Journal of Analytical Sciences and Spectroscopy 52:18-24.

Shute T. and Macfie, S.M. 2006 Cadmium and zinc accumulation in soybean: a threat to food safety? Science of the Total Environment 371:63-73.

Gadapati, W.R. and S.M. Macfie. 2006. The production of phytochelatins is only partially correlated with reduced Cd-stress in two species of Brassica. Plant Science 170:471-480.

Martin, R.R., S.J. Naftel, S.M. Macfie, K.W. Jones, H. Feng, and C. Trembley. 2006. High variability in the dendrochemistry of tree rings as measured by synchrotron microfluorescence.  X-ray Spectrometry 35:57-62.

Zhu, R., S.M. Macfie and Z. Ding. 2005. Cd-induced plant stress investigated by scanning electrochemical microscopy (SECM). Journal of Experimental Botany 56:2831-2838.

Martin, R.R., S.J. Naftel, S.M. Macfie, W. Skinner, F. Courchesne and V. Séguin. 2004. Time of flight secondary ion mass spectrometry studies of the distribution of metals between the soil, rhizosphere and roots of Populus tremuloides Minchx growing in forest soil. Chemosphere 54:1121-1125

Naftel, S.J., R.R. Martin, S.M. Macfie, T.K. Sham and K.W. Jones. 2001. Micro-synchrotron x-ray fluorescence of cadmium-challenged corn roots. Journal of Electron Spectroscopy and Related Phenomena 119:235-239.

Macfie, S.M. and P.M. Welbourn. 2000. The cell wall as a barrier to uptake of metal ions in the unicellular green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii.