Barry J. Shelp

Barry Shelp
College Professor Emeritus
Adjunct Professor



519-824-4120 x53089


Hon B.Sc. Brock University;
M.Sc. Brock University;
Ph.D. Queen's University


Edmund C. Bovey Building


4237 ECB

My primary research is concerned with developing abiotic and biotic stress resistance in plants using genetic engineering strategies. My principal approach involves GABA (gamma-aminobutyrate), a ubiquitous 4-C, non-protein amino acid of uncertain function in plants. However, it does accumulate in response to a variety of abiotic and biotic stresses, including temperature and oxygen shock, as well as insect damage. We are continuing to identify the proteins involved in GABA metabolism and transport, and their corresponding genes, using state-of-the- art analytical tools and biochemical and molecular techniques. These genes are typically being expressed in recombinant expression systems, with the recombinant proteins being isolated and purified for biochemical and physical characterization. The genes are also being modified and reinserted by Agrobacterium-mediated transformation or particle bombardment. We are using various Arabidopsis mutants (overexpression, knockout, knockdown) to elucidate the physiological function and regulation of GABA metabolism, and the interactions among GABA metabolism, photorespiration, polyamines and the tricarboxylic acid cycle. Also, we are investigating the role of GABA in the onset of physiological disorders in tree fruit stored under controlled atmosphere conditions. In addition to manipulating GABA metabolism, we are collaborating in studies of N use efficiency and carotenoid metabolism.

To view Dr. Shelp's citations, click here.

Announcement 2023, Ranking of #468 in Canada for Best Biology and Biochemistry Scientists


Greenhouse Canada logoGreenhouse Canada magazine selects a paper from Dr. Shelp’s team as Editors’ Pick for December 2020.

More for less: Lowering N, P and K in mums
Barry J. Shelp, Edward J. Flaherty, William J. Sutton, Skye Duncan Stephens, Alyna J. Donetz, Lou M. Schenck and Jamie Aalbers

The paper is available on the home page for Greenhouse Canada magazine:


Canadian Journal of Plant Science logoCanadian Journal of Plant Science selects a paper from Dr. Shelp’s team as "Editor's Choice" for June 2020.

Strategic timing and rate of phosphorus fertilization improves phosphorus-use efficiency in two contrasting cultivars of subirrigated greenhouse-grown chrysanthemum

Barry J. Shelp, William J. Sutton, Edward J. Flaherty
This initiative of Canadian Science Publishing and the Canadian Journal of Plant Science is a means of highlighting articles of particularly high caliber and topical importance.

The paper is available on the home page for CJPS as the Editor’s Choice:


Greenhouse Canada logo

Greenhouse Canada magazine selects discussion paper by Van Cauwenberghe and Shelp as Editors’ Pick for June 2020.  

Advancing cannabis genetics in Canada. The case for a cannabis germplasm repository.
Owen R. Van Cauwenberghe and Barry J. Shelp

The paper is available on the home page for Greenhouse Canada magazine:



Relevant Links:

Selected Publications:

Teeter-Wood, K.R., Flaherty, E.J., Donetz, A.J., Hoover, G.J., MacDonald, W.N., Wolyn, D.J., Shelp, B.J. (2023). Improving boron and molybdenum use efficiencies in contrasting cultivars of subirrigated greenhouse-grown pot chrysanthemums. Plants 2, 2348.

Shelp, B.J. (2022). From plant biology research to technology transfer and knowledge extension: improving food quality and mitigating environmental impacts. FACETS 7: 1028–1050.  

Aghdam, M.S, Flaherty, E.J., Shelp, B.J. (2022). γ-Aminobutyrate improves the postharvest marketability of horticultural commodities: Advances and prospects. Frontiers in Plant Science 13: 884572.

Shelp, B.J., Aghdam, M.S, Flaherty, E.J. (2021). γ-Aminobutyrate (GABA) regulated plant defense: Mechanisms and opportunities. Plants 10: 1939.

Zarei, A., Trobacher, C.P., Shelp, B.J.  (2016). Arabidopsis aldehyde dehydrogenase 10 family members confer salt tolerance through putrescine-derived 4-aminobutyrate (GABA) production. Scientific Reports 6: 35115.

Shelp, B.J., Bozzo, G.G., Trobacher, C.P., Zarei, A., Deyman, K.L., Brikis, C.J. (2012). Review/hypothesis: Contribution of putrescine to 4-aminobutyrate (GABA) production in response to abiotic stress. Plant Science 193: 130-135.

Clark, S.M., Di Leo, R., Dhanoa, P.K., Van Cauwenberghe, O.R., Mullen, R.T., Shelp, B.J. (2009). Biochemical characterization, mitochondrial localization, expression, and potential functions for an Arabidopsis γ-aminobutyrate transaminase that utilizes both pyruvate and glyoxylate. Journal of Experimental Botany 60: 1743-1757.

Allan, W.L., Simpson, J.P., Clark, S.M., Shelp, B.J. (2008). γ-Hydroxybutyrate accumulation in Arabidopsis and tobacco plants is a general response to abiotic stress: putative regulation by redox balance and glyoxylate reductase isoforms. Journal of Experimental Botany 59: 2555-2564.

Shelp, B.J., Bown, A.W., Faure, D. (2006). Extracellular γ-aminobutyrate mediates communication between plants and other organisms. Plant Physiology 142: 1350-1352.

Chevrot, R., Rosen, R., Haudecoeur, E., Cirou, A., Shelp, B.J., Ron, E. Faure, D. (2006). GABA controls the level of quorum-sensing signal in Agrobacterium tumefaciens. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 103: 7460-7464.

Brown, P.H., Shelp, B.J. (1997). Boron mobility in plants.  In B. Dell, P.H. Brown &  R.W. Bell (eds) Boron in Soils and Plants. Kluwer Acad Publ, AA Dordrecht, The Netherlands Pp 85-101.

Snedden, W.A., Arazi, T., Fromm, H., Shelp, B.J. (1995). Calcium/calmodulin regulation of soybean glutamate decarboxylase.  Plant Physiology 108: 543-549.