J Vessey

Professor
Faculty of Science
Biology

Faculty Member Information

Interests

Plant/Crop Physiology - I have been trained as a plant physiologist, working from the molecular to the whole plant levels of biological organization. I have an expert level of understanding of primary biochemical pathways, integrative cell structure and function, tissue organization and function, assimilate partitioning within and between tissues, whole plant growth, and plant responses to environmental conditions. From my undergraduate and MSc education, I have a working knowledge of ecology and plant physiological-ecology. From my post-doctoral position to the present, I have gained expertise in crop physiology (physiology of crop plants in agronomic settings from the plant to the agro-ecosystem levels of organization), in various aspects of microbiology and molecular biology, and expertise in crop production and field research.Specific: Legume-rhizobia symbioses - A primary area of research is on the development and physiology of the legume-rhizobia symbioses. This area includes the topics of the influence of O2 and carbohydrate supply on nitrogenase activity, ontological and assimilate partitioning effects on nodulation and nodule function, the effects of mineral nitrogen on nodule development and nodule function, similarity in ontology of rhizobia-legume and mycorrhiza-legume symbioses, and the use of DNA-fingerprinting techniques in strain identification of rhizobia, and the differential effects of nitrate and ammonium on gene expression in the model legume, Medicago truncatula.Endophytic diazotrophs of nonlegumes - In the last several years, I have moved into research on bacteria that fix N2 in grass crops, especially the Gluconacetobacter diazotrophicus - sugarcane symbiosis. We work on the underlying physiological mechanisms and endophytic environmental milieu which enable this organism to fix significant amounts of N2 in sugarcane. The long-term goal of this research is to better utilize the N2-fixing capabilities of the bacterium in sugarcane and to enable the bacterium to fix N2 in other crops such as wheat and sugar beet. This work involves a plethora of molecular, microbiological, physiological and tissue culture techniques. Recently, this research has been in field trials which has resulted in experience and expertise in inoculant formulation and seed coating. The benefits of legumes in crop systems - My research program has investigated the benefits of legumes (i.e. alfalfa and pea) in rotation and intercropped with non-leguminous species. Included in this area are the importance and positive effects of proper rhizobial inoculation of legumes in crop production. I also have expert knowledge on general aspects of pulse crop production.Other plant-microbe interactions - I also have expertise and research projects on the positive effects of other rhizospheric microorganism on crop plants. These include the growth promotion of Bacillus cereus (UW85) on legumes and the mechanism underlying the promotion of growth and of phosphate accumulation in pea by the rhizospheric fungus, Penicillium bilaii (Provide™) and of the use of growth-promoting microbes and other substances on the production of biofuel feedstocks.
CURRENT/PREVIOUS INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH COLLABORATIONS: Dr. H. Kuester, Bielefeld University, Germany. We collaborated on a project looking at the differential gene expression in the model legume, Medicago truncatula, in response to different N sources (nitrate versus ammonium). My program is actually doing the experimentation and Dr. Kuester is providing M. truncatula microarrays (containg 16K 70-mer oligo sequences) and technical guidance on using the microarrays. Drs. S. Chaillou and B. Hirel, INRA-Centre de Versailles, and Dr. J. Mahon, PBI, Saskatoon, SK; From contacts and information gained during my sabbatical in 1997 in France, I instigated a collaboration to investigate the effects of overexpression of a glutamine synthetase gene with tissue-specific promoters in P. sativum Our french colleagues provided the constructs and performed Western blots on selected transformants. Dr. Mahon did the initial transformations. My lab screened and selected the transformants for copy number and did the physiological characterizations. Houman Fei and I wrote the paper and oversaw its publication. This collaboration is continuing with further characterization of the transformants. Dr. Z. Dong, St. Mary’s Univ. and Members of the laboratory of Dr. E. Ortega, Univ. of Havana, Cuba. This group has collaborated on some aspects of my research on G. diazotrophicus. Dr. Dong is a co-applicant on an AAFC/NSERC grant I hold and Dr. Ortega is a co-operator on the project. Dr. Ortega's group has provided information, techniques and biological materials to the program. In Dong et al. (2002) images from Dr. Dong's PhD thesis (done under the supervision of Drs. M. McCully and M. Canny) were presented. R. Faustino and G. Pierce, Univ. of Manitoba, aided my group with confocal laser scanning microscopy.  My research group oversaw the physiological measurements. I wrote the paper and oversaw its publication.

Education

Ph.D., Biology, Queen's University, 1987
M.S., Biology, Dalhousie University, 1983
BSc. (Honours), Major in Biolgy, Biology, Dalhousie University, 1980

Academic Work Experience

2011 - Present, Associate Vice President Research, Saint Mary’s University
2005 - Present, Professor, Department of Biology, Saint Mary’s University
2005 - Present, Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research, Saint Mary’s University
1999 - 2004, Professor, Department of Plant Science, University of Manitoba
1997 - 1997, Visiting Scientist, Institut National de la Rechercher Agronomique, Centre de Recherche de Versailles
1994 - 1999, Associate Professor (NSERC-University Research Fellow), Department of Plant Science, University of Manitoba
1989 - 1994, Assistant Professor (NSERC-University Research Fellow), Department of Plant Science, University of Manitoba
1987 - 1989, Research Associate (Postdoctoral), Department of Soil Science, Box 7619, North Carolina State University
1980 - 1981, Research Technician, Marine Fish Division, Fisheries and Oceans

Membership

2003 - 2007, International Symbiosis Society
2001 - 2007, American Society of Microbiology
1996 - 2010, Canadian Botanical Association
1991 - 2008, Scandinavian Plant Physiology Society
1990 - Present, Canadian Society of Agronomy
1990 - Present, Agricultural Institute of Canada
1989 - 2005, Crop Science Society of America
1989 - 2005, American Society of Agronomy
1985 - 2007, American Society of Plant Physiologists
1983 - Present, Canadian Society of Plant Physiologists
1983 - Present, Canadian Society of Plant Physiologists
1982 - 1983, Biology Organization of Graduate Students, Dalhousie University

Honours

Dedicated Service Award Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools - 2012
Annual review ranking of “Superior” Fac. of Agric. and Food Sci., Univ. of MB - 2002
Annual review ranking of “Superior” Fac. of Agric. and Food Sci., Univ. of MB - 2001
Certificate of Achievement Manitoba Network for Science and Technology - 1999
C.D. Nelson Award for outstanding contributions by a young scientist to plant physiology in Canada The Canadian Society of Plant Physiologists - 1998
Annual review ranking of “Superior” Fac. of Agric. and Food Sci., Univ. of MB - 1996
University of Manitoba Merit Award in Research University of Manitoba - 1993
Rh Institute Award in the Natural Sciences Rh Institute Foundation - 1992
NSERC University Research Fellowship NSERC University - 1989
R.J. Reynolds Postdoctoral Fellowship R.J. Reynolds - 1987
NSERC Postgraduate Scholarship (Ph.D.) NSERC University - 1983
NSERC Postgraduate Scholarship (M.Sc.) NSERC University - 1981
NSERC Undergraduate Summer Scholarship NSERC University - 1980
Sarah Lawson Scholarship in Botany Dalhousie University - 1980
St. Dunstan's University Board of Governors Scholarship St. Dunstan's University - 1979

Teaching: Course / Program Development

2006/03 - Present, Representation of SMU on international affairs
2004/03 - Present, Teaching at Saint Mary's University
2004/02 - Present, Academic Program Development and Administration at Saint Mary's University
1998/03 - 2004/01, Academic Program Development and Administration at the University of Manitoba
1988/03 - 2004/03, Teaching at University of Manitoba

Scholarly Contributions

Book

Finan T, O'Brian M, Layzell D, Vessey J, Newton W. "Nitrogen Fixation - Global Perspectives" (Summer - 2002)

Journal Articles

Abudureheman A, Vessey J, Fei H. "Improving a “Generation 1.5” biofuel feedstock crop: Colonization and growth enhancement of energy beet (Beta vulgare L. Beta 5833R) by inoculation with Gluconacetobacter spp. ", Biocatalysis and Agricultural Biotechnology 10 (Winter - 2017), 247-255
Yoon Vanessa, Tian Gang, Vessey J. Kevin, Macfie Sheila M., Dangi Om P., Kumer Anand K., Tian Lining. "Colonization efficiency of different sorghum genotypes by Gluconacetobacter diazotrophicus", PLANT AND SOIL 398:1-2 (Fall - 2016), 243-256
Vessey J, Fei H, Burton D, Bradley R, Smith D. "The bilateral influence of plant and rhizosphere characteristics in Brassicas varying in seed oil productivity", Can J. Plant Science 94 (Spring - 2014), 1113-1116
Eskin N, Vessey J, Tian L. "Research progress and perspectives of nitrogen the fixing bacterium, Gluconacetobacter diazotrophicus, in monocot plants", International Journal of Agronomy (Spring - 2014)
Vessey J, Fei H, Ellis B.E. "Carbon partitioning in different tissues of a gain-of-function mutant (MYB75/PAP1-D) and a loss-of-function mutant (myb75-1) in Arabidopsis thaliana. ", Botany 92 (Spring - 2014), 93-99
Fei H, McVetty P.B.E, Vessey J. "13C and 15N partitioning in Brassica napus genotypes varying in seed oil content", Biocatalysis and Agricultural Biotechnology 2 (Spring - 2013), 143-151
Beaudette C, Bradley R, Whalen J, McVetty P.E.B., Vessey K, Smith D. "Tree-based intercropping does not compromise canola (Brassica napus L.) seed oil yield and reduces soil nitrous oxide emissions.", Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 139 (Spring - 2010), 33-99
Fei H, Vessey J. "Stimulation of nodulation in Medicago truncatula Gaertn. by low concentrations of ammonium: Quantitative, reverse-transcription (qRT) PCR analysis of selected genes", Physiologia Plantarum 135 (Spring - 2009), 317-330
Farooq F, Vessey J. "Genetic diversity of Bradyrhizobium japonicum within soybean growing regions of the north-eastern Great Plains of North America as determined by REP-PCR and ERIC-PCR profiling", Symbiosis 48 (Spring - 2009), 131-142
Vessey J. "The abundance and efficacy of Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. viciae in cultivated soils of the eastern Canadian prairie", Soil Biology and Biochemistry 38 (Spring - 2006), 294-302
Vessey J, Chemining’wa G. "The genetic diversity of Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. viciae in cultivated soils of the eastern Canadian prairie", Soil Biology and Biochemistry 38 (Spring - 2006), 153-163
Bollman M, Vessey J. "Differential effects of nitrate and ammonium supply on nodule initiation and development on roots of pea (Pisum sativum L.)", Can. J. Bot. 84 (Spring - 2006), 893-903
Fei H, Chaillou S, Hirel B, Polowick P, Mahon J, Vessey J. "The overexpression of a soybean cytosolic glutamine synthetase gene (GS15) linked to different organ-specific promoters does not consistently result in increased growth and N accumulation in ammonium-supplied pea plants", Plant Physiol. Biochem. 44 (Spring - 2006), 543-550
Odeleye F, Odeleye O.M.O., Vessey J, Dong Z, Ebuzome H. "Response of cucumbers to timing of fertilizer application in southwest Nigeria", Can. J. Plant Sci. 86 (Spring - 2006), 1391-1394
Fei H, Vessey J. "Further investigation of the roles of auxin and cytokinin in the NH4+- induced stimulation of nodulation using white clover transformed with the auxin-sensitive reporter GH3:gusA", Physiol. Plant 121 (Spring - 2004), 674-681
Entz M, Penner K, Zelmer C, Thiessen-Martens J. "Mycorrhizal colonization of flax under long-term organic and conventional management", Can. J. Plant Sci. 84 (Spring - 2004), 1097-1099
Vessey. J, Pawlowski K, Bergman B. "Root-based N2-fixing symbioses: Legumes, actinorhizal plants, Parasponia sp, and cycads", Plant and Soil 266 (Spring - 2004), 205-230
Fei H, Chaillou H, Hirel B, Mahon J, Vessey J. "Overexpression of a soybean cytosolic glutamine synthetase gene linked to organ-specific promoters in pea plants grown in different concentrations of nitrate", Planta 216 (Spring - 2003), 467-474
Fei H, Vessey J. "Involvement of cytokinin in the stimulation of nodulation by low concentrations of ammonium in Pisum sativum L", Physiol. Plant 118 (Spring - 2003), 447-455
Vessey J, Pan B. "Living a grounded life: growth and nitrogenase activity of Gluconacetobacter diazotrophicus on solid media in response to culture conditions", Symbiosis 35 (Spring - 2003), 181-197
Vessey J. "Plant growth promoting rhizobacteria as biofertilizers", Plant and Soil 255 (Spring - 2003), 571-58
Bullied J, Vessey J, Buss T. "Bacillus cereus UW85 inoculation effects on growth, nodulation, and N accumulation in grain legumes: II. Field studies.", Can. J. Plant Sci 82 (Spring - 2002), 291-298
Dong Z, Zelmer C, Canny M, McCully M, Luit B, Pan B, Faustino R, Pierce G, Vessey J. "Evidence for protection of nitrogenase from O2 by colony structure in the aerobic diazotroph, Gluconacetobacter diazotrophicus", Microbiology 148 (Spring - 2002), 2293-2298
Pan B, Vessey J, Smith D. "Response of field-grown soybean to co-inoculation with the plant growth promoting rhizobacteria Serratia proteamaculans or Serratia. liquefaciens, and Bradyrhizobium japonicum pre-incubated with genistein", Eur. J. Agron 17 (Spring - 2002), 143-153

Presentation

Vessey J. "Agricultural feedstock potentials in Nova Scotia.", Building a framework for biorefinery implementation in Nova Scotia (Fall - 2014)
Vessey J. "The crucial role of small and medium size universities for advancing Canadian social and economic development", Canadian Science Policy Conference (Fall - 2014)
Vessey J, Fei H, Dong Z, Papadopoulos Y. "Improving productivity of biomass feedstocks via application of beneficial soil microbes and plant supplements", Advanced Biofuel Symposium (Spring - 2014)
Vessey J, Mansfield Shawn. "Overview of the Feedstock Theme in BioFuelNet", 1st Annual General Meeting of the BioFuelNet. (Spring - 2014)
Vessey J, Fei H, Dong Z., Papadopolous Y. "Utilization of PGPRs to stimulate the growth of biomass feedstocks", 1st Annual General Meeting of the BioFuelNet. (Spring - 2014)
Vessey J. "Research Seminar", 1st Year Students Seminar (Fall - 2014)
Vessey J, Tian L. "Study of Gluconacetobacter diazotrophicus in corn plants for colonization and potential nitrogen fixation", 67th Northeastern Corn Improvement Conference (Winter - 2013)
Vessey J. "Research Seminar", Biology Department Seminar Series (Winter - 2013)
Vessey J, Fei H, Abudureheman A, Macdougall Z. "Enhancement of sugar beet (Beta vulgaris L.) growth by inoculation with Gluconacetobacter spp", 8th International Symposium on Biocatalysts and Agricultural Biotechnology (Fall - 2012)
Vessey J, Fei H. "Utilization of 13C and 15N dual labeling to study carbon and nitrogen partitioning among shoots, roots, and soil in Brassica napus genotypes varying in seed oil content potential", 8th International Symposium on Biocatalysts and Agricultural Biotechnology (Fall - 2012)
Vessey J. "The Making of a Research Agreements Policy", Canadian Association of University Research Administrators (Fall - 2011)
Vessey J, Papadopoulos Y. "Crop-Based Biofuel Feedstock Potential in Atlantic Canada – Nova Scotia model", Plant Canada 2011 (Spring - 2011)
Vessey J. "Renewable Energy Resource Potential in North America", Center for Legislative Energy and Environmental Research Meeting (Spring - 2011)
Vessey J. "The bilateral influence of plant and rhizosphere characteristics in Brassica sp. varying in seed oil productivity", Green Crop Network Annual Meeting (Spring - 2011)
Vessey J. "Production Systems for Cellulosic Ethanol Feedstocks in Canada (real and potential)", Canada-Brazil Workshop on the Efficient Production of Cellulosic Ethanol (Winter - 2010)
Vessey J. "Crop-Based Biofuel Feedstock Potential in Nova Scotia", Bioenergy in Nova Scotia - Bioenergy and Forest Sustainability Workshop (Winter - 2010)
Vessey J. "The bilateral influence of plant and rhizosphere characteristics in Brassica sp. varying in seed oil productivity", Green Crop Network Annual General Meeting (Fall - 2009)

Service: Institutional Committees

Academic Advisory Committee on Research and Instructional Computing, 2012/03 - None (Chair)
Search Committee for the Dean of Arts, 2012/03 - 2013/03 (Member)
Joint Union-Management Committee to Review the Lecturer Stream, 2012/03 - None (Chair)
International Student Success Committee, 2011/03 - None (Member)
Advisory Committee to the Vice-President, Academic and Research. , 2009/03 - None (Member)
International Activities Coordination Committee, 2009/03 - None (Member)
Atrium Building Project Steering Committee, 2006/03 - None (Member)
Budget Advisory Committee, 2005/03 - None (Member)
Deans’ Committee, 2004/03 - None (Member)
Senate Committee, 2004/03 - None (Member)
Academic Planning Committee, 2004/03 - None (Member)
Senior Administrators Group, 2004/03 - None (Member)
Executive Committee, Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research , 2004/03 - None (Chair)
Awards Committee, Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research , 2004/03 - None (Chair)
Faculty Council, Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research , 2004/03 - None (Member)
Graduate Studies Committee, Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research , 2004/03 - None (Member)
Research Committee, Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research , 2004/03 - None (Member)

Service: Professional or Disciplinary

Council Member, Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA) 2014/03 - Present
Chair, Alliance of Canadian Comprehensive Research Universities (ACCRU) 2013/03 - Present
Research Committee Member, Collaboration for Analytics Research, Education and Technology (CARET) 2012/03 - Present
Executive Committee and Vice-Chair, Alliance of Canadian Comprehensive Research Universities (ACCRU) 2011/03 - 2013/03
Chair, Atlantic Regional VPRs/AVPRs Working Group 2011/03 - 2013/03
Board of Director, Atlantic Computational Excellence Network (ACEnet) 2011/03 - Present
Member: Research Management Committee, BioFuelNet, a Canadian Network of Centres of Excellence (NCE) 2011/03 - Present
Board of Director, Offshore Energy Research Association (OERA) 2011/03 - Present
Chair, NSERC Atlantic 2010/03 - 2013/03
External Review Panel, Graduate Programs, Department of Plant Science, University of Saskatchewan. 2009/03 - 2009/03
University Advisory Board Member, Centre for Legislative Energy and Environmental Research (CLEER), The Energy Council 2008/03 - 2010/03
International Review Panel, Research Programming at the Swedish Agricultural University, Uppsala, Sweden 2008/03 - 2008/03
Board of Director, Petroleum Research Atlantic Canada (PRAC) 2007/03 - 2010/03
Co-Chair, Atlantic Environmental Sciences Research Network 2006/03 - 2011/03
Member: Organizing Committee, 16th International Congress on Nitrogen Fixation 2006/03 - 2008/03
Board of Director, Atlantic Environmental Sciences Research Network 2005/03 - Present
Board of Director, Offshore Energy Technical Research Association (OETRA) 2005/03 - 2011/03
Member, Atlantic Regional VPRs/AVPRs Working Group 2004/03 - Present
Member: Advisory Committee, NSERC Atlantic 2004/03 - Present
Scientific Advisory Committee and Research Theme Leader (Biofuels), The Green Crop Network (an NSERC Strategic Research Network) 2004/03 - 2010/03
Associate Editor , Plant and Soil 2001/03 - 2005/03
Consulting Editor Board , Plant and Soil 1993/03 - 2001/03
Reviewer, Various Journals 1986/03 - Present
Reviewer (Granting Agencies), Various agencies 1979/03 - 2004/03

Service: Community

Board of Directors, Canadian Association of Graduate Studies 2012/03 - Present
Member: Training Advisory Committee, Maritime Strategy on Patient Oriented Research (SPOR) Support Unit 2012/03 - Present
Board of Director, Council of Graduate Schools 2011/03 - 2012/03
Past President, Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools 2011/03 - 2012/03
Chair, Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation 2010/03 - Present
President, Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools 2010/03 - 2011/03
Chair, Nova Scotia - CIHR Research Partnership Program 2010/03 - 2011/03
Member: Advisory Committee, Nova Scotia Research and Innovation Trust 2008/03 - Present
Vice Chair, Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation 2008/03 - 2010/03
Member: Academic Advisory Committee, Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission 2007/03 - 2013/03
Executive Committee Member, Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools 2007/03 - 2012/03
Member: Advisory Committee, Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation 2006/03 - Present
Board of Director and Secretary, Springboard Atlantic Inc. 2006/03 - 2011/03
Board of Director, Canadian Association of Graduate Studies 2005/03 - 2008/03
Member: Advisory Committee, Nova Scotia - CIHR Research Partnership Program 2004/03 - Present

Biography

<p>J. Kevin Vessey is the Associate Vice President of Research, Dean of Graduate Studies, and a Professor of Biology at Saint Mary&rsquo;s University.&nbsp; Previously he has been a Professor of Plant Science at the University of Manitoba, a Researcher Associate at North Carolina State University, and a Visiting Scientist at the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, France.&nbsp; His research area is plant physiology, particularly the functional interactions between crop plants and beneficial micro-organisms, and the optimizing of crops as biofuel feedstocks.&nbsp; He has publishes over 80 scholarly articles, co-edited one book, holds one patent and has trained over 50 undergraduate/graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.&nbsp; He has served on many regional, national and international boards and advisory committees and currently holds a leadership position in BioFuelNet Canada, a Network of Centres of Excellence (NCE) that brings together the Canadian biofuels research community.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>