Botany 528 (Term 2: January, 2023- 3 credits)

General Information
Course Title
Current Topics in Plant Biochemistry I
Course Overview

Plants cannot easily escape their environments. This simple fact provides constant challenges for plant survival and has shaped many fundamental aspects of plant biology. The common lack of escape, in time or space, is reflected in exciting features of plant chemistry and plant ecology. Plants use a plethora of chemicals to interact with their environment. For example, plants use fragrant chemicals to attract pollinators or toxins to defend herbivores. The course emphasizes on old and new concepts of plants interacting with components of a complex biotic environment, including their “friends” and potential “enemies”. A broad range of examples of plants using chemicals to interact with their environment will be discussed and analyzed during a mandatory companion course Biol 462 (Ecological Plant Biochemistry). In the “Current Topics Botany 528” course students will select a topic of their interest and develop, with guidance from their instructor, a detailed proposal for a future research project of their choice in chemical ecology.

Course Term
Meeting Location(Building and Room)
Check with Dr. Joerg Bohlmann
Meeting Days/Times
Wednesday, 8:00- 11:00 am

General Information

Academic History
  • Distinguished University Scholar and NSERC E.W.R. Steacie Fellow
  • Member of the Royal Society of Canada (2015)
  • Research Scientist, Max Planck Institute Jena, Germany (1998-2000)
  • Feodor Lynen Postdoctoral Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Washington State University, Pullman, USA (1995-1998)
  • Ph.D., Technical University Braunschweig, Germany (1995)

Contact Information

Office Phone
Office Location
Office Room 321, MSL Building
Lab Phone
Lab Location
Room 383, MSL Building

Research Information

Research Abstract

Plant molecular biology, genomics and biochemistry. Natural products and chemical ecology of forest trees.

Research Interests

Plants are sessile organisms which have the ability to survive under constantly changing environmental conditions over lifespans of several weeks to hundreds of years. To cope with biotic or abiotic stress, plants have evolved a complex specialized metabolism which contains hundreds of thousands of unique small molecules. Many of these bioactive molecules have beneficial applications for humans.

Through genomicproteomicmetabolomic and biochemical approaches our laboratory is exploring two aspects of plant specialized metabolism: (1) the role it plays in plant defense, and (2) how its  genes and enzymes can be prospected for metabolic engineering of high-value bioproducts. The foundation of our research program has concentrated primarily on the terpenoid pathway, including the large gene families of terpene synthases (TPS) and cytochrome  P450s, and more recently extended into phenolic pathways.

The first major stream of our research program combines forest health genomics and chemical ecology to better understand the ecological, biochemical, and molecular interactions that underlie conifer defense and resistance mechanisms against insect pests and insect-associated fungal pathogens. This research has resulted in the production of new conifer and pest genomic resources, the identification of new marker systems for tree breeding, and advanced knowledge to inform government decision making and policies in forest pest management. The long-term goal and outcome is the protection of global health of forests beginning with applications in Canada in partnership with provincial and federal government organizations.

The second major stream of our program combines an integrated –omics strategy to discover genes and enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of high-valued plant bioproducts. This research has successfully developed a gene discovery strategy for non-model species, generating transcriptome resources for many non-model species, and has produced a large portfolio of enzymes for bioproduct development. Applications are being realized in partnership with the biotech industry.

Team Members

Lab & Facility Managers

Carol Ritland, Project Manager
Sharon Jancsik, Lab Manager

Research Associates and Post-Doctoral Fellows

Lars Kruse

Michael Easson

Omnia Gamal

Tal Shalev

Graduate Students

Dylan Perera

Katie Lyle


Mack Yuen


Sharon Jancsik

Selected Publications

Burnette TE, Haavik LJ, Whitehill JGA, Salisbury VB, Fischer JM, Madilao L, Brunsell KB, Bohlmann J. White ash trees (Fraxinus americana) originally from colder, drier areas are more susceptible to emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis). University of Montana STEM Oral Presentations. link:

Rosana ARR, Pokorny S, Klutsch JG, barra-Romero C, Sanichar R, Engelhardt D, van Belkum MJ, Erbilgin N, Bohlmann J, Carroll AL, Vederas JC. Selection of entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana (DeuteromycotinaHyphomycetes) for the biocontrol of Dendroctonus ponderosae(ColeopteraCurculionidaeScolytinae) in Western Canada. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology. doi: 10.1007/s00253-021-11172-7

Link to the complete list of publications: Publications | Bohlmann lab (

Additional Information

For further information, please contact Dr. Joerg Bohlmann at

Course Code
BOTA 528
Course Department