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Sheila Blackman


Home Department: Biology
Degree: Ph.D., Queens University, Biology

Research interest: Artificially induced somatic embryogenesis.

I am interested in the artificially induced process of somatic embryogenesis, whereby somatic cells from plants can be induced to develop along a pathway that resembles natural "zygotic" embryogenesis. Somatic embryogenesis offers several advantages as a model system for the study of plant development in general, especially that the environment of somatic embryos, unlike that of zygotic embryos developing in ovulo, is entirely controllable. I am investigating controlling factors in development that fall into two broad categories: inductive cues (such as hormones and nutrients) and positional cues, particularly plasma membrane and cell wall factors. I am also interested in the causes of and potential solutions to the problem of seed deterioration during long-term storage, which is a major impediment to ex situ preservation of biodiversity in wild and cultivated plants.