Eliana Gonzales-Vigil

Dr. Eliana Gonzales-Vigil

Former Mansfield Lab Post-Doctoral Fellow (April 2012 – July 2018)

LinkedIn: https://ca.linkedin.com/in/eligonvig

Currently – Assistant Professor at University of Toronto, Scarborough, Ontario


POPCAN – Characterization of cuticular waxes in Populus leaves

Research Interests

Plants respond to multiple abiotic and biotic stresses with an intricate chemical language of specialized metabolites (also known as secondary metabolites) that are constantly evolving. My primary interest is to use an integrative approach to understand this biochemical response by exploring how new chemicals are produced, deciphering their ultimate biological function, and understanding how the choice of metabolites depends on the abiotic and biotic environment.

My current project in the laboratory of Dr. Shawn Mansfield is part of a large-scale multidisciplinary genomics project (POPCAN) that is exploring diversity in Populus trichocarpa (black cottonwood) natural populations to facilitate genetic improvement of the species as a bioenergy feedstock. As part of it, I have been studying the natural diversity in P. trichocarpa cuticular waxes. Cuticular waxes are composed of a mixture of lipids that coat the plant surface, and as such they constitute the first barrier against a hostile environment. To assess wax diversity, I examined the variation in composition and abundance among genotypes and developmental stages using gas chromatography (GC) and mass spectrometry (MS). This approach has produced a large metabolite dataset that is being mined in combination with genome and transcriptome data to uncover the genes involved in the biosynthesis and regulation of wax components.


PhD Genetics, Plant Research Laboratory, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA (2009)

Professional degree in Biology, Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina, Lima, Peru (2002)

Bachelor of Sciences – Major in Biology, summa cum laude, Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina, Lima, Peru (2000)

Selected Publications

Smith R, Gonzales-Vigil E, Karlen S, Park J-Y, Lu F, Wilkerson C, Samuels LA, Ralph J, and Mansfield S (2015). Engineering monolignol p-coumarate conjugates into Poplar and Arabidopsis lignins. Plant Physiology. ​Dec; 169(4):2992-3001DOI:​10.​1104/​pp.​15.​00815.

Bedewitz MA, Góngora-Castillo E, Uebler JB, Gonzales-Vigil E, Wiegert-Rininger KE, Childs KL, Hamilton JP, Vaillancourt B, Yeo Y-S, Chappell J, DellaPenna E, Jones AD, Buell CR, and Barry CS (2014). A root-expressed L-phenylalanine: 4-hydroxyphenylpyruvate aminotransferase is required for tropane alkaloid biosynthesis in Atropa belladonna. Plant Cell. Sep; 26(9): 3745-62.

Wilkerson CG, Mansfield SD, Lu F, Withers S, Park JY, Karlen SD, Gonzales-Vigil E, Padmakshan D, Unda F, Rencoret J, Ralph J (2014). Monolignol ferulate transferase introduces chemically labile linkages into the lignin backbone. Science. Apr 4; 344(6179):90-3.

Kang JH*, Gonzales-Vigil E*, Matsuba Y, Pichersky E, Barry CS (2014). Determination of residues responsible for substrate and product specificity of Solanum habrochaites short-chain cis-prenyltransferases. Plant Physiology. Jan; 164(1):80-91 *Co-first authors

Matsuba Y, Nguyen TT, Wiegert K, Falara V, Gonzales-Vigil E, Leong B, Schäfer P, Kudrna D, Wing RA, Bolger AM, Usadel B, Tissier A, Fernie AR, Barry CS,Pichersky E (2013). Evolution of a complex locus for terpene biosynthesis in Solanum. Plant Cell. Jun; 25(6):2022-36.

Kim J, Kang K, Gonzales-Vigil E, Shi F, Jones AD, Barry CS, Last RL (2012). Striking natural diversity in glandular trichome acylsugar composition is shaped by variation at the Acyltransferase2 locus in the wild tomato Solanum habrochaites. Plant Physiology. Dec; 160(4):1854-70.

Gonzales-Vigil E, Hufnagel DE, Kim J, Last RL, Barry CS (2012). Evolution of a TPS20-related terpene synthases influences chemical diversity in the glandular trichomes of the wild tomato relative Solanum habrochaites. Plant Journal. Sep; 71(6):921-35.

Gonzales-Vigil E, Bianchetti CM, Phillips GN Jr, Howe GA (2011) Adaptive evolution of threonine deaminase in plant defense against insect herbivores. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Apr 5; 108(14):5897-902.

Chen H, Gonzales-Vigil E and Howe GA (2008). Action of plant defensive enzymes in the insect midgut. In book: Induced Plant Resistance to Herbivory (A. Schaller ed.), Springer Verlag.

Chen H*, Gonzales-Vigil E*, Wilkerson CG, Howe GA (2007). Stability of plant defense proteins in the gut of insect herbivores. Plant Physiology. Apr; 143(4):1954-67. *Co-first authors

Wulff E, Torres S, Gonzales-Vigil E (2002). Protocol for DNA extraction from potato tubers. Plant Molecular Biology Reporter 2002 20: 187a-187e.

Selected Presentations

Gonzales-Vigil E, Hefer C, von Loessl M, Farzaneh N, Douglas CJ, Mansfield SD. A waxy cover for Populus trichocarpa leaves. Tree Biotechnology Conference. Florence, Italy. June 8-12, 2015 (Oral presentation).

Gonzales-Vigil E, Hefer C, von Loessl M, Farzaneh N, Douglas CJ, Mansfield SD. Cuticular waxes in Populus trichocarpa leaves: The diversity is within you. International Poplar Symposium IV. Vancouver, BC, Canada. July 20-23, 2014 (Oral presentation).

Gonzales-Vigil E, Hefer C, von Loessl M, Farzaneh N, Douglas CJ, Mansfield SD. Exploiting the natural diversity in Populus trichocarpa cuticular waxes to uncover unique biosynthetic enzymes. 21st International Symposium on Plant Lipids. Guelph, ON, Canada. July 6-11, 2014 (Oral presentation).

Awards, Grants, Scholarships

  • Nominated as member of Sigma Xi Scientific Honor Society (2008)
  • Award for Excellent Graduate Student Oral Presentation, the Midwest Sectional Meeting of the American Society of Plant Biologists (2007)
  • Fulbright Scholarship for Graduate Studies in the United States, Lima Peru (2003)