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Prof. Dr. Tim Sharbel - Director, Research & Genetics

Dept. of Plant Sciences, University of Saskatchewan

Dr. Sharbel’s research group investigates apomixis (asexual plant reproduction via seeds) in natural populations, using evolutionary theory, population genetics and advanced “omics” methods, with the goal of identifying apomixis factors for agricultural improvement. 

Dr. Sharbel worked as a technician in an amphibian genetics laboratory at McGill University from 1987 until 1995 and simultaneously completed his BSc and MSc in evolution and biology at McGill. In 1995, he moved to the Max Planck Institute for Behavioural Physiology (Seewiesen, Germany), where he completed his PhD in Biology, studying the evolution of sex in flatworms from the Italian Alps. In 1999, Dr. Sharbel moved to the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology (Jena, Germany) to work on apomixis as a post-doc. In 2005, he began as head of the apomixis research group at the Leibniz Institute for Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK Gatersleben, Germany). On September 1, 2015, he began as the GIFS Research Chair in Seed Biology at the newly formed Global Institute for Food Security, where he is also full professor in the Dept. of Plant Sciences at the University of Saskatchewan, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Selected Publications

Lovell, J.T., R.J. Williamson, S.I. Wright, J.K. McKay, T.F. Sharbel.  (2017) Mutation Accumulation in an Asexual Relative of Arabidopsis. PLoS Genet 13(1): e1006550. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1006550

Mau M, Lovell J T, Corral J M, Kiefer C, Koch M A, Aliyu O M, Sharbel T F.  Hybrid apomicts trapped in the ecological niches of their sexual ancestors. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 112 (2015) E2357-E2365. 

Corral JM, Vogel H, Aliyu OM, Hensel G, Thiel T, Kumlehn J, Sharbel TF. (2013) Apomixis-specific DEDDh exonuclease expression in premeiotic ovules of Boechera. Plant Physiology 163 (2013) 1660-1672.

Mau M, Corral JM, Vogel H, Melzer M, Fuchs J, Kuhlmann M, de Storme N, Geelen D, Sharbel TF. (2013) The novel chimeric transcript UPGRADE is associated with unreduced pollen formation in apomictic Boechera. Plant Physiology 163 (2013) 1640-1659.

Aliyu OM, Seifert M, Corral JM, Fuchs J, Sharbel TF. (2013) Copy number variation in transcriptionally active regions of sexual and apomictic Boecherademonstrates independently-derived apomictic lineages. Plant Cell 25 (2013) 3808-3823.

I presently have 22 researchers in my labs in Canada, and 3 researchers in my previous labs in Germany. Together we are working on a range of projects, including:   

  • Development of novel and disruptive tools for improving crop breeding

  • Development and application of genome editing methods to experimental and crop plants

  • Population genomics analyses of apomictic and medicinal plants

  • Cutting edge proteomics analyses of plant reproduction

  • High througput reproductive phenomics 

  • Population metabolomic analyses of wild medicinal plant populations

Our competitive advantages:

A strong and experienced team of researchers working in plant evolutionary genomics 

  • High throughput genetic, cytogenetic and phenotyping methods for the analyses of plant populations

  • Strong bioinformatics resources for gene identification, functional analyses and genomic selection