Faride Unda

Dr. Faride Unda

Research Associate

LinkedIn: https://ca.linkedin.com/in/faride-unda-943688104


POPCAN: Genetic improvement of poplar trees as a Canadian bioenergy feedstock

Research Interests

My interest in Plant Biology Research started while doing my agricultural engineering undergrad back home in Ecuador. Initially, I focused on production and management. Later, graduate school offered me the challenge of learning a different approach to working with plants. My PhD project was focused on the alteration of carbon allocation and its effect on the secondary xylem formation in poplar trees. I found that the mis-regulation of two raffinose family of oligosaccharide (RFOs) genes (galactinol synthase and raffinose synthase) had a significant effect on growth, xylem chemistry and fibre properties of transgenic trees. This research gave me the opportunity to learn important techniques and better understand molecular biology, analytical chemistry, tissue culture, fibre characterization, etc.

Currently, I am working on a project dealing with the genetic improvement of poplar trees for bioenergy source. This multidisciplinary Genome Canada project implicates the sequencing and phenotyping of natural populations of P. trichocarpa and P. balsamifera with the key goal of associating genes to important bioenergy traits. My specific interest is to pinpoint genes associated with wood traits (i.e. cellulose, lignin, density, fibre properties), and to investigate if there is a G × E interaction affecting the wood properties in the P. balsamifera trial.


Post-Doctoral Fellow, Department of Wood Science, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada  (2012-2018)

PhD Forestry- Department of Wood Science, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada  (2012)

MSc Plant Science,  Department of Plant Science, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada (2006)

Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Engineering, Polytechnic School of the Army, Quito, Ecuador (1998)

Selected Publications and Conference Presentations

Hodge GR, Acosta JJ, Woodbridge WC, Unda F, Mansfield, SD (2018).Global NIR models to predict wood chemical properties of eucalyptus. Journal of Near Infrared Spectroscopy, 26(2):117-132.

La Mantia J*, Unda F*, Douglas CJ, Mansfield SD, Hamelin R (2018). Overexpression of AtGolS3 and CsRFS in poplar enhances ROS tolerance and represses leaf rust defense response. Tree Physiology, 38: 457-470.

Unda F, Kim H, Ralph J, Mansfield SD (2017). Altering carbon allocation in hybrid poplar (Populus alba × grandidentata) impacts cell wall growth and development. Plant Biotechnology Journal, 15:865-878. doi: 10.1111/pbi.12682

McKown AD, Klápště J, Guy RD, Soolanayakanahally RY, La Mantia J, Porth I, Skyba O, Unda F, Douglas CJ, El-Kassaby YA, Hamelin RC, Mansfield SD, Cronk QCB (2017). Sexual homomorphism in dioecious trees: extensive tests fail to detect sexual dimorphism in PopulusScientific Reports, 7:1831 DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-01893-z

Chang CY, Fréchette E, Unda F, Mansfield SD, Ensminger I (2016). Elevated temperature and CO2 stimulates late season photosynthesis, but impairs cold hardening in pine. Plant Physiology, 172: 802-818.

Sakamoto S, Somssich M, Nakata M, Unda F, Atsuzawa K, Kaneko Y, Wang T, Bågman AM, Gaudinier A, Yoshida K, Brady SM, Mansfield SD, Persson S and Mitsuda N (2018). Complete substitution of a secondary cell wall with a primary cell wall in Arabidopsis. Nature Plants (accepted)

Quentin AG, Pinkard EA, Ryan MG, Tissue DT, Scott Baggett L, Adams HD, Maillard P, Marchand J, Landhäusser SM, Lacointe A, Gibon Y, Anderegg WRL, Asao S, Atkin OK, Bonhomme, M, Claye, C, Chow PS, Clément-Vidal A, Davies NW, Turin Dickman L, Dumbur R, Ellsworth DS, Falk K, Galiano L, Grünzweig JM, Hartmann H, Hoch G, Hood S, Jones JE, Koike T, Kuhlmann I, Lloret F, Maestro M, Mansfield SD, Martínez-Vilalta J, Maucourt M, McDowell NG, Moing A, Muller B, Nebauer SG, Niinemets Ü, Palacio S, Piper F, Raveh E, Richter A, Rolland G, Rosas T, Saint Joanis B, Sala A, Smith RA, Sterck F, Stinziano JR, Tobias M, Unda F, Watanabe M, Way DA, Weerasinghe LK, Wild B, Wiley E, Woodruff DR (2015). Non-structural carbohydrates in woody plants compared among laboratories. Tree Physiology, 2015:1–20. doi: 10.1093/treephys/tpv073

Glass M, Barkwill S, Unda F, Mansfield SD (2015). Endo β-1,4-glucanases impact plant cell wall development by influencing cellulose crystallinity. Journal of Integrative Plant Biology, 57(4):396-410.

Maloney VJ, Park J-Y, Unda F, Mansfield SD (2015). Sucrose-phosphate synthase and sucrose-phosphate phosphatase interact in planta and promotes enhanced plant growth. Journal of Experimental Botany 66 (14):4383-4394. doi:10.1093/jxb/erv101.

Chang CY, Zubilewich A, Fréchette E, Unda F, Mansfield SD, Ensminger I (2015). Sensitivity of cold acclimation to elevated autumn temperature in field-grown Pinus strobus seedlings. Frontiers In Plant Science 6:165.

Porth I, Klápste J, McKown AD, La Mantia J, Hamelin RC, Skyba O, Unda F, Friedmann MC, Cronk QCB, Ehlting J, Guy RD, Mansfield SD, El-Kassaby YA, Douglas CD (2014). Extensive functional pleiotropy of REVOLUTA substantiated through forward genetics. Plant Physiology, 164 (2), 548-554.

Serapiglia MJ, Gouker FE, Hart JF, Unda F, Mansfield SD, Stipanovic AJ, Smart LB (2014). Ploidy level affects important biomass traits of novel shrub Willow (Salix) hybrids. Bioenergy Research. 8, 259-269.

Porth I, Klápste J, McKown AD, La Mantia J, Hamelin RC, Skyba O, Unda F, Friedmann MC, Cronk QCB, Ehlting J, Guy RD, Mansfield SD, El-Kassaby YA, Douglas CD (2014). Extensive functional pleiotropy of REVOLUTA substantiated through forward genetics. Plant Physiology, 164 (2), 548-554.

Wilkerson CG, Mansfield SD, Lu F, Withers S, Park J.-Y, Karlen SD, Gonzales-Vigil E, Padmakshan D, Unda F, Rencoret J, Ralph J (2014). Ferulate monolignol transferase introduces chemically labile ester bonds into the lignin backbone. Science, 344, 90-93.

Park J-Y, Canam T, Kang K-Y, Unda F, Mansfield SD (2009). Sucrose phosphate synthase expression influences poplar phenology. Tree Physiology, 29 (7), 937-946.

Unda F, Kalynyak P, Riseman A (2007). Organogenesis plant regeneration from leaf explants of Exacum Styer Group. Plant Cell Tissue and Organ Culture, 89 (2-3), 105-111.

Canam T, Unda F, Mansfield SD (2008). Heterologous expression and functional characterization of two hybrid poplar cell-wall invertases. Planta, 228 (6), 1011-1019.

Unda F, Canam T, Preston L, and Mansfield SD (2012). Isolation and characterization of hybrid poplar galactinol synthases. Journal of Experimental Botany, 63 (5), 2059-2069.


Unda F, Mansfield SD (2012). Enhancing cell wall properties in plants or trees. Canadian Patent Office application PCT/CA2012/050450.

Awards, Grants, Scholarships

  • UBC Four Year Fellowship, Fellowship, UBC (2009-2010)
  • NSERC, Post-Graduate Scholarship for Doctoral students (PGSD), UBC (2006-2009)
  • NSERC, Canadian Graduate Scholarship for Master students (CGSM). UBC (2004-2005)
  • Henry and Myrtle Eddie, Scholarship, UBC (2005)
  • Leonard S Klinck Memorial, Fellowship, UBC (2005)
  • Full Scholarship – Master’s degree program in Biotechnology. CATIE (Centro Agronomico Tropical de Investigacion y Enseñanza) Turrialba, Costa Rica. Declined and preferred to receive a degree from Canada. (1999)
  • University Medal, best graduating student from Agricultural Sciences Faculty, Polytechnic School of the Army, Quito, Ecuador (1998)
  • Gold Medal, best academic achievment during undergraduate program – Polytechnic School of the Army, Quito, Ecuador (1998)
  • Scholarship for outstanding achievement, three last years of undergraduate studies, Agricultural Engineering, Polytechnic School of the Army, Quito, Ecuador (1995-1996)
  • Award for excellent achievement, during the second year of studies at Polytechnic School of the Army
  • Thesis Research Scholarship, Phosphate and Potash Institute (Ecuador Chapter)/Agricultural Research Institute of Ecuador (1997-1998).