Project Description

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Sheila M. Macfie


  • 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.

For a complete list of publications, please visit

Albano, L.J. and S.M. Macfie. 2016. Investigating the ability of Pseudomonas fluorescens UW4 to reduce cadmium stress in Lactuc sativa via an interventaion in the ethylene biosynthetic pathway. Canadian Journal of Microbiology DOI 10.1139/cjm-2016-0315

Kozachuk, M., A. Suda, L. Ellis, M.J. Walzak, M.C. Biesinger, S.M. Macfie, R.H.E. Hudson, A. Nelson, R.R. Marting and A. Heginbotham. 2016. Possible radiation-induced damage to the moecular structure of wooden artefacts due to micro-computed tomography, handheld X-ray fluroescence, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopic techniques. Jouranl of Conservation and Museum Studies. 14:1-6. DOI 10.5334/jcms.126.

Yoon, V., K, Vessey, S. Macfie, O. Dangi, A. Kumar and L. Tian. 2016.  Colonization efficiency of different sorghum genotypes by Gluconacetobacter diazotrophicus. Plant and Soil DOI 10.1007/s11104-015-2653-8.

Khan, A.H., E. Topp, A. Scott, M. Sumarah, S.M. Macfie and M.B. Ray. 2015.  Biodegradation of benzalkonium chlorides singly and in mixtures by a Pseudomonas sp. Isolated from returned activated sludge.  Journal of Hazardous Materials 299:595-602.

Columbus, M.P. and Macfie, S.M. 2014. It takes an individual plant to raise a community: TRFLP analysis of the rhizosphere microbial community of two pairs of high and low metal accumulating plants in two soil types.  Soil Biology and Biochemistry 81:77-80. DOI:10.1016/j.soilbio.2014.11.002

Akhter, Mst.F., Omelon, C., Gordon, R.A., Moser, D. and Macfie, S.M. 2014. Localization and chemical speciation of cadmium in the roots of barley and lettuce.  Environmental and Experimental Botany100:10-19. DOI: 10.1016/j.envexpbot.2013.12.005 [PDF]

Konopka, J.K., Hanyu, K., Macfie, S.M. and McNeil J.M. 2013. Does the response of insect herbivores to cadmium depend on their feeding strategy? Journal of Chemical Ecology DOI 10.1007/s10886-013-0273-4 [PDF]

Martin, R.R., Naftel, S.J., Macfie, S.M., Jones, K.W. and Nelson A. 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. [PDF]

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