Picture of  Tim Sharbel

Tim Sharbel Professor, GIFS Research Chair in Seed Biology

3C26 - Agriculture Building, 1460 - NRC Building

Research Area(s)

  • Apomixis, plant reproduction and evolutionary genomics
  • Asexual seed production
  • Genetics and evolution


Plant Sciences

Research Interests

The focus of my research group is the evolution of naturally-occurring asexual seed production in plants (apomixis), and my research program encompasses population genetics and evolution, high throughput phenotyping, various “omics” methods (NGS, microarray expression profiling, CGH, miRNA analyses), and functional genetics.  Asexual plants are naturally occurring, and are typically hybrid and polyploid, and thus our research includes the cause and effect aspects of these phenomena on asexuality.  The relative success of sexual versus asexual reproduction reflects an evolutionary puzzle which has long challenged biologists, and our applied work on apomixis has enabled us to delve relatively deeply into some of these evolutionary hypotheses, both in wild populations and in the lab. 

From an applied perspective, apomixis is heralded as disruptive technology which could spur an agricultural revolution when engineered into crops, as it would allow immediate fixation of any desired genotype and lead to faster and simpler breeding schemes. Hence niche breeding, the development of diverse crop varieties adapted to specific environmental, agricultural or economic needs, would be one of many potential benefits to humanity.  


Ph.D (Max Planck Institute for Behavioral Physiology AND the Ludwig Maximillian University of Munich); M.Sc. (McGill University); B.Sc. (McGill University)