Shona Ellis

Faculty Profile

Faculty Profile

Professor of Teaching, Associate Head of Biology

Teaching & Learning, Biodiversity, Plant Biochemistry.

Professor of Teaching (2012), University of British Columbia
Senior Instructor (2007 - 2012), University of British Columbia
M.Sc. Plant Natural Products Chemistry (1993), University of British Columbia
B.Sc. Botany (1985), University of British Columbia

Contact Information

Room 2521 - 6270 University Blvd
604-822-9728
604-822-6089
shona@mail.ubc.ca

Research Interests

My primary area of research was secondary products chemistry.  As a plant tissue culturist I examined tissues derived in culture (including transgenic tissues) for the production of secondary metabolites and their precursors, and compared their chemical profiles with intact plant organs. For my masters research I examined the production of thiarubrines (dithiacyclohexadienne polyynes) in Ambrosia chamissonis, isolating and identifying two novel compounds and examining the potential of these compounds, and other thiarubrines, as medicinal agents.  Assays however, revealed that the therapeutic and toxicity concentrations were too similar.

Fig 1. Collection site of Ambrosia chamissonis at Cemetery Beach on Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands).  Plant and inflorescence.

 

Fig. 2.  Cross-section of transgenic root (transformed with Agrobacterium rhizogenes) of Ambrosia chamissonis, stained with toluidine blue (e= endodermis, pp = primary phloem, px = primary xylem, t = thiarubrine canal).  Thiarubrines are naturally red.

This project extended to screening a large number of plants that have traditional First Nations uses for antibiotic activity.  We traveled around British Columbia collecting samples.  The material was processed initially in a similar way to First Nations' preparation techniques.  Extractions were then screened for antibacterial and antifungal activity.  Extracts testing positive (antibacterial and antifungal) in the initial rounds were further fractionated and assayed.

 

Teaching

BIOL 324 - Seed Plant Taxonomy: Course Coordinator and Lab Instructor

BIOL 210 - Introduction to Vascular Plants: Course Coordinator, Lecturer, Lab Instructor

BIOL 321- Morphology and Evolution of Bryophytes: Course Coordinator, Lecturer, Lab Instructor
Public Website: http://blogs.ubc.ca/biology321 

BIOL 343- Plants and People (summer session): Course Coordinator, Lecturer, Lab Instructor

Team Members

Biology Office:
Tammy Tromba - Biology Program Assistant
Rachel LeBlanc - Education Programmer (Connect and Biology Program)

Sustainability Initiative: Developing a Sustainability Pathway in Biology
Ileana Costrut - Program Coordinator
Nili Heidary - Website Developer and Program Assistant

Selected Publications

Nachonechny, J and S. M. Ellis 2012 Bryofolios: Individual and Group E-portfolio Learning Spaces for Developing Authentic Science Scholars. In D. Cambridge (Ed.), Hershey PA: Global Diffusion of E-Portfolios: IGI Global Publications 

Ryall, K., Whitton, J., Schofield,W.B., Ellis, S.M. and A.J. Shaw. 2005 Molecular Phylogenetic Study of Interspecific Variation in the Moss Isothecium (Brachytheciaceae). Systematic Botany 30: 242-247. 

Ellis, S.M., 2004 Arbor vitae: A personal, teacher’s view of tree-life on the University of British Columbia Campus Davidsonia 15:1 pages 15 – 33. 

Ellis, S.M., Schofield, W.B., Haddad, N, Stewart, N., and J.K. Webb 2002 Bryophytes of UBC Botanical Garden Davidsonia 13:3 pages 35 – 43. 

McCutcheon, A. T., Stokes, R. W., Thorson, L. M., Ellis, S. M., Hancock, R. E. W., and Towers, G. H.N. 1997 Anti-Mycobacterial screening of British Columbian medicinal plants. J. Ethnopharmacognosy 35:77-103. 

Razal, R. A., Ellis, S. M., Singh, S., Lewis, N. U., and Towers, G. H. N. 1996 Nitrogen recycling in phenylpropanoid metabolism. Phytochemistry 41: 31-35.

Ellis, S. M, Balza, F., Constabel, P., Hudson, J.B. and Towers, G. H. N. 1995 Thiarubrines: Novel Dithiacyclohexadiene Polyyne Photosensitizers from Higher Plants In: Light-Activated Pest Control. ACS Symposium Series 616, Eds. Heitz, J.R., and Downum, K.R., pp. 174-178.

Ellis, S. M., Balza, F., Constabel, P., Hudson, J.B. and Towers, G. H. N. 1995 Thiarubrines: Novel Dithiacyclohexadiene Polyyne Photosensitizers from Higher Plants In: Light-Activated Pest Control. ACS Symposium Series 616, Eds. Heitz, J.R., and Downum, K.R., pp. 174-178. 

McCutcheon, A. T., Roberts.T. E., Gibbons, E., Ellis, S. M., Babiuk, L. A., Hancock, R. E. W., and Towers, G. H.N. 1995 Antiviral screening of British Columbian medicinal plants. J. Ethnopharmacology. 49: 101-110. 

McCutcheon, A. T., Ellis, S. M., Hancock, R. E. W., and Towers, G. H.N. 1994 Antifungal screening of medicinal plants of British Columbian native peoples. J. Ethnopharmacology 44: 157-169.

Towers, G. H. N. and Ellis, S. M. 1993 Secondary Metabolism in Plant Cultures Transformed withAgrobacterium tumefaciens and A. rhizogenes. CRC In: Human Medicinal Agents from Plants ACS Symmposium Series 534, Eds A. D. Kinghorn and M. F. Balanrin, pp. 56-78.

Ellis, S. M., Balza, F., and Towers, G. H. N. 1993 A dithiacyclohexadiene polyyne alcohol from Ambrosia chamissonis. Phytochemistry: 33: 224-226.

Ellis, S. M. and Towers, G. H. N. 1993 Root cultures of Asteraceae as sources of thiarubrines and other polyyne antibiotics. In Advances in Developmental Biology and Biotechnology of Higher Plants.(W. Y Soh, J. R. Liu, and A. Komamine eds.) The Korean Society of Plant Tissue Culture, pp. 454-473.

Towers, G. H. N. and Ellis, S. M. 1993 Secondary Metabolism in Plant Cultures Transformed withAgrobacterium tumefaciens and A. rhizogenes. CRC In: Human Medicinal Agents from Plants ACS Symmposium Series 534, Eds A. D. Kinghorn and M. F. Balanrin, pp. 56-78.

McCutcheon, A. T., Ellis, S. M., Hancock, R. E. W., and Towers, G. H.N. 1992 Antibiotic screening of medicinal plants of the British Columbian native peoples. J. Ethnopharmacology. 37: 213-223.

McDougall, S., Ellis, S. M., and Taylor, I. E. P. 1988 The occurrence of polar structures in callus cultures from mature lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia). Can. J. Bot. 66: 2595-2596.