Shelley Lumba

Academic Title: Assistant Professor

Campus: St. George

CSB Appointment: Full

Primary Undergraduate Department:  Cell & Systems Biology

Graduate Programs:  Cell & Systems Biology

Academic or Administrative Appointments

Ph.D. University of Toronto 2007,
BSc Hon, University  of Toronto 2000

Mailing Address
Department of Cell & Systems Biology
University of Toronto
25 Willcocks St.

Toronto, ON M5S 3B2
Contact Information
Office phone: 416-978-8262
Office: 4069
Lab: 4065
Lab phone: 416-978-0563


Research Areas
Comparative Genomics
Developmental Biology
Molecular Biology
Plant Biology
Systems Biology

The Lumba Research Group is interested in the molecular mechanisms underlying dormancy and germination in parasitic plants like Striga. In Africa, S. hermonthica is the most destructive Striga species by parasitizing major food crops such as sorghum, rice and millet and causing yield losses in the range of 30 to 100%. Striga infestations adversely affect the lives of over 100 million people in 25 countries. Understanding the molecular mechanisms that underlie dormancy and germination in the Striga seed is essential to developing strategies to combat Striga. These molecular mechanisms, however, are poorly understood. We apply systems biology approaches to integrate genomic, transcriptome and protein-protein interaction data to generate signalling networks underlying germination in a parasitic model, Striga and a non-parasitic model, Arabidopsis. To generate protein interaction datasets for Striga and Arabidopsis, we have developed a “tabletop interactome” method consisting of high-throughput, binary yeast two-hybrid studies. Our particular focus is on signalling networks of plant hormones such as SL (strigolactone), GA (gibberrellic acid) and ABA (abscisic acid), which are known to play critical roles in the decision to germinate. By generating signalling networks at the protein level, we are closer to a cellular understanding of germination processes in plants. Further comparisons of signalling networks between Striga and Arabidopsis will also reveal clues to the evolution of a parasitic lifecycle. Our goal is to take advantage of these differences to develop strategies that prevent Striga from germinating and infecting its host.



Chemical Genetics and Strigolactone Perception. Lumba, S., Bunsick M., and McCourt, P., 2017. F1000 Research 2017 June 6:975, 10.12688/f1000research.11379.1

The Perception of Strigolactones in Vascular plants.  Lumba, Shelley, Duncan Holbrook-Smith, and Peter McCourt. 2017. Nature chemical biology, no. 6 ( 17) . doi:10.1038/nchembio.2340.

Found in Translation: Applying Lessons from Model Systems to Strigolactone Signaling in Parasitic Plants.Lumba, Shelley, Asrinus Subha, and Peter McCourt. 2017. Trends in biochemical sciences (May 9). doi:S0968-0004(17)30086-5.


Transcription Factor Promotes Internode Elongation by Activating Gibberellin Biosynthesis and Signaling.  Zhou, Xin, Zhong-Lin Zhang, Jeongmoo Park, Ludmila Tyler, Jikumaru Yusuke, Kai Qiu, Edward A Nam, et al. 2016. The ERF11 Plant physiology, no. 4 (June 2). doi:10.1104/pp.16.00154.


Structure-Function Analysis Identifies Highly Sensitive Strigolactone Receptors in Striga. Toh, Shigeo, Duncan Holbrook-Smith, Peter J Stogios, Olena Onopriyenko, Shelley Lumba, Yuichiro Tsuchiya, Alexei Savchenko, and Peter McCourt. 2015. Science (New York, N.Y.), no. 6257 ( 9). doi:10.1126/science.aac9476.


A Mesoscale Abscisic Acid Hormone Interactome Reveals a Dynamic Signaling Landscape in Arabidopsis. Lumba, Shelley, Shigeo Toh, Louis-François Handfield, Michael Swan, Raymond Liu, Ji-Young Youn, Sean R Cutler, et al. 2014. Developmental cell, no. 3 ( 12).


The Embryonic Leaf Identity Gene FUSCA3 Regulates Vegetative Phase Transitions by Negatively Modulating Ethylene-Regulated Gene Expression in Arabidopsis. Lumba, Shelley, Yuichiro Tsuchiya, Frederic Delmas, Jodi Hezky, Nicholas J Provart, Qing Shi Lu, Peter McCourt, and Sonia Gazzarrini. 2012. BMC biology (February 20). doi:10.1186/1741-7007-10-8.

The FRIABLE1 Gene Product Affects Cell Adhesion in Arabidopsis. Neumetzler, Lutz, Tania Humphrey, Shelley Lumba, Stephen Snyder, Trevor H Yeats, Björn Usadel, Aleksandar Vasilevski, et al. 2012. PloS one, no. 8 (August 14). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0042914.


Plant Nuclear Hormone Receptors: a Role for Small Molecules in Protein-Protein Interactions. Lumba, Shelley, Sean Cutler, and Peter McCourt. 2010. Annual review of cell and developmental biology. doi:10.1146/annurev-cellbio-100109-103956.


Abscisic Acid Inhibits Type 2C Protein Phosphatases Via the PYR/PYL Family of START Proteins. Park, Sang-Youl, Pauline Fung, Noriyuki Nishimura, Davin R Jensen, Hiroaki Fujii, Yang Zhao, Shelley Lumba, et al. 2009. Science (New York, N.Y.), no. 5930 (April 30). doi:10.1126/science.1173041.

Preventing Leaf Identity Theft with Hormones. Lumba, Shelley, and Peter McCourt. 2005. Current opinion in plant biology, no. 5.

The Transcription Factor FUSCA3 Controls Developmental Timing in Arabidopsis Through the Hormones Gibberellin and Abscisic Acid. Gazzarrini, Sonia, Yuichiro Tsuchiya, Shelley Lumba, Masanori Okamoto, and Peter McCourt. 2004. Developmental cell, no. 3.