Michael Phillips

Michael Phillips

Assistant Professor Biology
(905) 569-4848
Office Location:

Research | Jobs | Recent Publications


The Phillips lab studies the metabolism of plant isoprenoids (terpenoids), a diverse group of high value primary and secondary metabolites which include photosynthetic pigments, enzyme co-factors, and numerous medically important natural products. We use molecular cell biology, isotopic labeling, and mass spectrometry to understand how primary and secondary terpene metabolism is controlled in model plants like Arabidopsis as well as plants which produce specialized, high-value terpenoid natural products. My lab houses a collection of analytical instrumentation, including a GCMS system and the only LCMS/MS triple quad-ion trap on the UTM campus, which we use in support of student projects and in collaborations with other researchers at the University of Toronto and other nearby institutions.

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The Phillips lab is recruiting talented and motivated student(s) for the 2021 academic cycle. More information can be found here.

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Recent Publications

S Mitra, R Estrada-Tejedor, DC Volke, MA Phillips, J Gershenzon, LP Wright (2021) “Negative regulation of plastidial isoprenoid pathway by herbivore-induced β-cyclocitral in Arabidopsis thalianaProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 118(10): e2008747118 (10.1073/pnas.2008747118)

ME Bergman, M Bhardwaj and MA Phillips (2021) “Cytosolic geraniol and citronellol biosynthesis require a Nudix hydrolase in rose scented geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)” The Plant Journal (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/tpj.15304)

YV da Silva-Magedans and MA Phillips (2021) “Soapbark triterpenes: Quillaja brasiliensis cell culture sapogenin and free sterol analysis by GCMS” Methods in Molecular Biology (Springer) (in press)

ME Bergman, D Gonzalez-Cabanelas, LP Wright, BJ Walker, MA Phillips (2021) “Isotope ratio-based quantification of carbon assimilation highlights the role of plastidial isoprenoid precursor availability in photosynthesis” Plant Methods 17:32 (https://doi.org/10.1186/s13007-021-00731-8)

ME Bergman and MA Phillips (2021) “Structural diversity and biosynthesis of plant derived p-menthane monoterpenes” Phytochemistry Reviews 20(2):433-459

YV da Silva-Magedans, MA Phillips, A Fett-Netto (2021) “Production of plant bioactive triterpenoid saponins: from metabolites to genes and back” Phytochemistry Reviews 20(2):461-482

L Pereira, M Santo Domingo, V Ruggieri, J Argyris, MA Phillips, G Zhao, Q Lian, Y Xu, Y He, S Huang, M Pujol, J Garcia-Mas (2020) “Genetic dissection of climacteric fruit ripening in a melon population segregating for ripening behavior” Horticulture Research 7 (1), 1-18

Guirimand, Grégory, Guihur, Anthony, Perello, Catalina, Phillips, Michael, Mahroug, Samira, Oudin, Audrey, Dugé de Bernonville, Thomas Besseau, Sébastien, Lanoue, Arnaud, Giglioli-Guivarc’h, Nathalie, Papon, Nicolas, St-Pierre, Benoit, Rodríguez-Concepcíon, Manuel, Burlat, Vincent, Courdavault, Vincent (2020) “Cellular and Subcellular Compartmentation of the 2C-Methyl-D-Erythritol 4-Phosphate Pathway in the Madagascar Periwinkle” Plants 9:462

Otiniano, GA, Porter, TJ, Benowitz, JA, Bindeman, IN, Froese, DG, Jensen, B, Davies JL, Lauren J, Phillips, MA (2020) “A late Miocene to late Pleistocene reconstruction of precipitation isotopes and climate from hydrated volcanic glass shards and biomarkers in central Alaska and Yukon Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology, e2019PA003791

Bergman, Matthew E, Chávez, Ángel, Ferrer, Albert, Phillips, Michael A (2020) “Distinct metabolic pathways drive monoterpenoid biosynthesis in a natural population of Pelargonium graveolens” Journal of Experimental Botany vol 1 pages 258-271

Onkokesung, N., Reichelt, M., Wright, L. P., Phillips, M. A., Gershenzon, J., Dicke, M. (2019) “The plastidial metabolite 2‐C‐methyl‐D‐erythritol‐2, 4‐cyclodiphosphate modulates defense responses against aphids Plant Cell & Environment (doi.org/10.1111/pce.13538)

Andrade, P., Manzano, D., Ramirez-Estrada, K., Caudepon, D., Arro, M., Ferrer, A., Phillips, M. A. (2018) “Nerolidol production in agroinfiltrated tobacco: Impact of protein stability and membrane targeting of strawberry (Fragraria ananassa) NEROLIDOL SYNTHASE1”, Plant Science, 267:112-123

Pereira, L, Pujol, M., Garcia-Mas, J., Phillips, M. A. (2017) “Non-invasive quantification of ethylene in attached fruit headspace at 1 p.p.b. by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry” Plant Journal (doi: 10.1111/tpj.13545)

Perello, C., Llamas, E., Burlat, V., Ortiz-Alcaide, M., Phillips, M.A., Pulido, P., Rodriguez-Concepcion, M., (2016) “Differential subplastidial localization and turnover of enzymes involved in isoprenoid biosynthesis in chloroplasts” PLoS ONE 11: e0150539

Saladié, M., Cañizares, J., Phillips, M. A., Rodriguez-Concepción, M., Larrigaudiere, C., Gibon, Y., Stitt, M., Lunn, J. E., Garcia-Mas, J. (2015) “Comparative transcriptional profiling analysis of developing melon (Cucumis melo L.) fruit from climacteric and non-climacteric varieties” BMC Genomics 16:440

González Cabanelas, D., Wright, L. P., Paetz, C., Onkokesung, N., Gershenzon, J., Rodríguez Concepción, M., Phillips, M. A. (2015) “The diversion of 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol-2,4-cyclodiphosphate from the 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol 4-phosphate  pathway to hemiterpene glycosides mediates stress responses in Arabidopsis thaliana” Plant Journal 82:122-137

Docimo T., Davis A.J., Luck K., Fellenberg C., Reichelt M., Phillips M. A., Gershenzon J. and D’Auria J.C. (2015) “Influence of medium and elicitors on the production of cocaine, amino acids and phytohormones by Erythroxylum coca calli” Plant Cell, Tissue, and Organ Culture 120: 1061-1075 DOI: 10.1007/s11240-014-0660-8

Wright, L. P., Rohwer, J., Ghirardo, A., Hammerbacher, A., Ortíz, M., Raguschke, B., Schnitzler, J. P., Gershenzon, J., Phillips, M. A. (2014) “Deoxyxylulose 5-phosphate synthase controls flux through the methylerythritol 4-phosphate pathway in Arabidopsis” Plant Physiology 165:1488-1504

Saladié, M., Wright, L.P., Garcia Mas, J., Rodriguez Concepción, M., Phillips, M. A. (2014) “The 2-C-methylerythritol 4-phosphate pathway in melon is regulated by specialized isoforms for the first and last steps” Journal of Experimental Botany 65:5077-5092

Wright, L. P. and Phillips, M. A. (2014) “Measuring the activity of 1-deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate synthase, the first enzyme in the MEP pathway” Methods in Molecular Biology, Plant Isoprenoids Issue (Springer, USA), 1153:9-20

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