Singh Lab

Meet Our Lab members

Wei-Yuan Chen

PhD Candidate

Pre-Harvest Sprouting (PHS) is seeds germinating prematurely, and it reduces the grains’ value significantly. Our group has associated AGO4_9 (Argonaute4_9) genes with PHS in both barley and wheat. The AGO4_9 is a member of RNA-directed DNA methylation (RdDM) pathway, which is a regulation mechanism of DNA methylation in plants. Besides, the literatures have shown the intensive methylation events happened during seed development, and demethylation in germination, in model plants. To summary, these indicate the methylation plays a role in dormancy/germination of seeds, and this may determine the difference of various PHS responses in cereals.

My project aims to understand how the RdDM associated with the PHS in details. This work starts with genome-widely identifying RdDM genes. At the same time, I am creating the transgenic barley with RNAi and CRISPR to characterize the RdDM’s role in barley seed dormancy/germination. I would like to find certain methylation events that determines the PHS responses in barley. These can provide not only the new approach to manipulate seeds dormancy/germination, but also the novel markers in the cereals breeding. Eventually, the work can help our agriculture to fight against the growing population and climate changes.

Irfan Iqbal

PhD Candidate

I am a Ph.D candidate working on the brewing cereal barley. The aim of my project is to discover and characterize the function of germination associated thaumatin-like proteins especially, in the (1,3,1,4)-β-D-glucan regulation.

Apart from being a Phyto-scientist, I am also a very athletic person and spend my spare time doing sports such as basketball, soccer and badminton.


Purnima Kundpal 

PhD Candidate

Pre-harvest sprouting (PHS) is a complex problem of small cereals causing frequent yield and economic losses in Canada. We hypothesize that a synergistic and integrated multi-dimensional approach could provide viable and rapid solutions. Previous findings from our lab observed the role of AGO802 and AGO804 gene in wheat seed dormancy and PHS resistance through the modulation of DNA methylation process. So, I am working on a two-way approach of ingressing AGO802/AGO804 gene(s) into elite white wheat lines and supplementing the genes exogenously through safe nano-sprouting inhibitor modules.

Thomas Donoso

MSc Candidate

The common oat (Avena sativa) is a major nutritional and economical crop for Canadians. Hence, improving the agronomical traits of this cereal has gained interest over time. As traditional breeding techniques prove to be slow and laborious, newly developed gene editing techniques have paved the way for a simpler enhancement of crop quality. Despite these advancements, the genomic resources in oat have lagged behind other cereals, making it difficult to implement modern gene editing tools. In response, an assembled oat genome has recently been made available, opening the door for the genetic modification of oat. My research involves the introduction of the CRISPR-Cas9 system in oat for the first time. Specifically, as dietary fiber has been demonstrated to have a preventative effect against heart disease, CRISPR-Cas9 will be used to improve the beta-glucan content. Through standardizing the CRISPR-Cas9 system in this small grain cereal, we hope to set the foundation for the further improvement of oat.

Sukhjiwan Kadoll

MSc Candidate

Seed germination is the crucial stage in the plant life cycle. Seed reserves such as starch, protein, fat can influence the germination process to a greater extent. Starch as a major source of carbohydrates contributes around 80% to endosperm. The complete hydrolysis of starch provides glucose as an ‘energy source’ to the germinating embryo. During the starch hydrolysis process different types of hydrolytic enzymes are involved, understanding the function and regulation of these starch hydrolytic enzymes is worthwhile. My research project focuses on studying the transcriptional regulation of the starch hydrolytic enzyme pullulanase and its inhibitors during barley seed germination. The pullulanase enzyme, also called limit dextrinase in barley which catalyzes the hydrolysis of α-(1-6) glucosidic linkages in amylopectin which are not hydrolyzed by b or α- amylases. On the other hand, the action of α–glucosidase on branched oligoglucosides is relatively slow, pullulanase is considered to play a central role in the complete depolymerization of starch to glucose.

Post-Doctroal Fellow & Research Associaets

Dr. Zhou Zhou

Post-Doctoral Fellow

Dr. Zhou’s current research interests lie primarily in genetic improvement of economically important traits in cereals and field pea using an integrated set of agricultural biotechnologies. The early studies on pea laid a solid foundation in the field of plant genetics, however, advances in pea genomics and breeding lagged behind other legume species. The work on oil and starch biosynthesis in pea is oriented toward understanding the regulatory mechanism of carbon partitioning in pea seed and identifying the key elements associated with the seed composition traits in pea. The ultimate goal is to develop oil-rich pea germplasm growing under cold climate for the market. As one of major cereal crops worldwide, the oat possesses high potential of utilization in human consumption and animal feeding. The work on oil content in oat targets on the elevation of oil content in oat seeds and/or vegetative tissues through genetic manipulation of the committed steps in lipid biosynthesis. The novel oat lines with high oil content will provide sufficient added value to meet the needs of end-users.

Dr. Rajvinder Kaur

Research Associate 


Singh Lab Emeritus

Students Graduated 

  • Miss. Annis Fatmawati (M.Sc. – Sept. 2018 – Dec 2020)
  • Dr. Simerjeet Kaur (Ph.D.- May 2013- Aug. 2017)
  • Dr. Surinder Singh (Ph.D.- Jan. 2011-Aug 2015)
  • Miss. Marie-Josee Cardinal (M.Sc.- May 2012)
  • Mr. Prabhjot Nandha (M.Sc.- Sept. 2011-March, 2014) — Current Position: Manager, Quality Manager & Regulatory Affairs, Ancaster, Ontario
  • Mr. Han Qi-Tan (M.Sc.- 2008-2010)
  • Mr. Sajjad Ahmed (M.Sc.-2010-2012) — Current Position: Quality Assurance & Compliance Manager, Eureka 93, Ottawa
  • Mr. Daishu Yi (M.Sc.-2013-2016)
  • Mr. Harvinder Syan (M.Sc.-2010-2012, Co-supervisor with Dr. Prasher) — Current Position: Inspector, CFIA, Edmonton, Alberta

Student Trainees and Interns

  • D. Lamb-Palmer (M.Sc.-2010-2011- Biotechnology Intern, Institute of Parasitology)
  • Muhammad Ashfaq (6 month Ph.D. trainee-2011)
  • Muhammad Ali (6 month Ph.D. trainee – Apr. 2013)
  • Sahabat Noor (6 month Ph.D. trainee – June 2013)
  • John Alexander Aguirre Tabares (Canada-Columbia exchange MSc student- 2017-18)

Research Associates/PDFs  

  • Dr. Rajiv Tripathi (Aug. 2015- Feb. 2020) — Current Position: Post-Doctoral Fellow, McGill University
  • Dr. Manjit Singh (May 2010-Dec. 2012) — Current Position: Research Scientist & Principal Investigator, Corteva Agriscience, Johnston, Iowa, USA.
  • Dr. Ravneet Kaur (June 2011-Feb. 2013) — Current Position: Lecturer, Panjab University Chandigarh, India
  • Dr. Kashmir Singh (Visiting Scientist- May 2012-Jan. 2013) — Current Position: Associate Professor, Panjab University Chandigarh, India

Undergraduate Research Students 

  • Thomas Donoso (NSERC USRA-2018, 2019)
  • Jérôme Gélinas Bélanger (NSERC USRA-2017)
  • William Overbeek (2017-18)
  • Thomas Donoso (2017)
  • Dennis Park (2017)
  • Gaelle Muller-Greven
  • Karim Qasim
  • Shujun Xiao (2012- Chinese Exchange program)
  • Xin Hao (2010- Chinese Exchange program)
  • Xin Bao (2010- Chinese Exchange program)
  • Chen Li
  • Marie-Josee Cardinal
  • Taranvir Bhati
  • Mélanie Chapleau (NSERC USRA-2009)