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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Science
May 29, 2017
Canadian Excellence

Research Program

Flexibility of Respiratory Electron Transport Chains

The number and types of electron transport chains used by organisms on this planet are astounding! Research in my laboratory primarily focuses on the electron transport chains in eukaryotic organelles; specifically mitochondria and plastids. Our research addresses questions about the evolutionary history, physiological role, and regulation of terminal oxidase proteins.  Current work in the lab is performed on alternative oxidase (AOX) and plastoquinol terminal oxidase (PTOX). We use a wide variety of organisms as experimental systems, ranging from bacteria to invertebrate animals. Most of our research uses plants as a research model.

Dr. McDonald recently spoke about her research on Science Scoop


Current Research Projects

1) Alternative Oxidases of Non-Angiosperm Plants

Alternative oxidase is best characterized in angiosperms (i.e. flowering plants). Our recent results obtained using bioinformatics indicate that AOX is present in non-angiosperm plants. This provides a wonderful opportunity to compare and contrast AOX between these two groups which will hopefully lead to some great insights about the enzyme's regulation, evolutionary history, and physiological function.

2) Alternative Oxidases of Bacteria 

This is a new area of research for the lab. Little is known about AOX proteins of bacteria and we are hoping to shed light on this area using a combination of molecular biology and biochemistry.

3) Alternative Oxidases of Animals

AOX sequences have now been identified in a large number of animal phyla and in more than 25 animal species (McDonald and Vanlerberghe, 2004; McDonald et al., 2009). Our lab will aim to learn more about the functional and regulatory characteristics of AOX in animals and to determine how they compare to the AOX enzymes of bacteria, plants, and other organisms.