The Gosling Institute for Plant Preservation Logo Footer
University of Guelph


Bovey Bldg
601 Gordon St, Guelph, ON
N1G 1Y2 Canada



Using recent advances in cell culture, microscopy, molecular biology and chemistry, GRIPP is investigating mechanisms which direct in vitro and in vivo plant growth and development. Specific research interests include: regulation of plant morphogenesis and modulation of plant metabolism in changing climates.

Our research has elucidated the role of a novel class of plant growth regulator, the indoleamines melatonin and serotonin. Commonly recognized for their functions as human neurotransmitters, work at GRIPP has investigated their roles and mechanisms in morphogenesis, plant stress, and reproduction. These results have led to the establishment of these compounds as a new class of plant growth regulator and are being used to answer fundamental and applied questions such as: How do plants sense and adapt to changing environmental conditions? What are the factors that induce flowering in endangered plants? Why do plants commit to one growth pattern instead of another? Understanding plant growth regulation helps GRIPP researchers in advancing the conservation, sustainable use, restoration, and replenishment of threatened plant species to their natural environments.

GRIPP also employs plant protoplasts for a variety of fundamental scientific studies on cellular division and differentiation, as well as more practical applications such as protoplast fusion. Protoplasts, also known as “naked cells”, are the living components of the plant cells after the cell wall has been removed. Once the cell wall is removed, the protoplasts of two separate cells can be combined into a single cell that contains both partners’ genetic material to overcome sexual barriers and create inter-specific hybrids that display unique characteristics such as improved growth, disease resistance, and enhanced phytomedicine production.

Selected Publications

  1. Chattopadhyay A, Erland LAE, Jones AMP, Shen H, Saxena PK. (2017). Indoleamines and phenylpropanoids modify plant development in the bryophyte Plagiomnium cuspidatum. In Vitro Plant Cellular and Developmental Biology Plant.
  2. Sherif SM, Erland LA, Shukla MR, Saxena PK. (2017). Bark and wood tissues of American elm exhibit distinct responses to Dutch elm disease. Scientific Reports (Nature). doi: 10.1038/s41598-
  3. Sherif SM, Shukla MR, Murch SJ, Bernier L, Saxena PK. (2016). Simultaneous induction of jasmonic acid and disease-responsive genes signifies tolerance of American elm to Dutch elm disease. Scientific Reports (Nature). 6: 21934.
  4. Jones AMP, Shukla MR, Biswas GCG, Saxena PK. (2015). Protoplast-to-plant regeneration of American elm (Ulmus americana). Protoplasma. 252: 925-931.
  5. Jones AMP, Shukla MR, Chattopadhyay A, Saxena, PK. (2013). Investigating the roles of phenylpropanoids in the growth and development of Zea Mays L. In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology Plant. 49(6): 765-772.
  6. Sherif S, Jonesa AMP, Shukla MR, Saxena PK. (2013). Establishment of invasive and non-invasive reporter systems to investigate American elm-Ophiostoma novo-ulmi interactions. Fungal Genetics and Biology 8(10): e76802.