Soheil Mahmoud

Associate Professor

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Office: SCI 312
Phone: 250.807.8752

Graduate student supervisor

Research Summary

Molecular, cellular, biochemical and environmental factors that regulate the quality and quantity of aromas and essential oils produced by herbal and medicinal plants; identification, cloning and characterization of structural and regulatory genes that are involved in the biosynthesis, inter- and intra-cellular trafficking, secretion and storage of monoterpenes in plants cells specialized for secondary metabolite production.

Courses & Teaching

Plant molecular biology and biochemistry; metabolism of natural products; plant biotechnology.


I completed my doctoral work at the University of Calgary in the area of plant biochemistry and molecular biology.  My project centered on the production of vertebrate proteins (fish growth hormone) in plant seeds. This work demonstrated that plants could be used as bioreactors for the production of large quantities of high-value proteins for pharmaceutical use and for aquaculture.

After graduating, I joined the laboratory of Dr. Rodney Croteau (Washington State University) as a postdoctoral fellow to study terpenes (the largest class of plant natural products) in peppermint. My research resulted in the improvement of the yield and quality of the essential oil (a mixture of mono- and sesquiterpenes) in this plant.

I joined UBC Okanagan (formerly Okanagan University College) in 2004 to initiate a research program in the area of plant natural products metabolism. My first challenge was to develop research infrastructure and acquire modern equipment. The construction of our facility (the CFI-funded Natural Products Laboratory) was completed in late 2005.  Research in my group focuses on the metabolism of isoprenoids in aromatic and medicinal plants.


PhD, University of Calgary

Research Interests & Projects

Isoprenoids, or terpenoids, are the largest class of plant secondary metabolites, or natural products. They have important ecological and physiological roles in plants as pollinator attractants, defensive agents, hormones and photosynthetic pigments. Terpenoids tremendously influence our lives and have a significant impact on our economy. They impart health-promoting properties to fruits, vegetables and medicinal plants. They are also extensively used in the manufacturing of medicines, cosmetics, pesticides and numerous other industrial products.

My research is concerned with the metabolism of isoprenoids in plants. More specifically, we are interested in the molecular, cellular, biochemical and environmental factors that regulate the quality and quantity of aromas and essential oils produced by herbal and medicinal plants. Current work focuses on identification, cloning and characterization of structural and regulatory genes that are involved in the biosynthesis, inter- and intracellular trafficking, secretion and storage of monoterpenes (the 10 carbon isoprenoids) in plants cells specialized for secondary metabolite production. One of our goals is to improve crop plants through plant biotechnology.

Selected Publications & Presentations

Malli RPN, Adal AM, Sarker LS, Liang P, and Mahmoud SS (2019). De novo sequencing of the Lavandula angustifolia genome reveals highly duplicated and optimized features for essential oil production.     PLANTA, 249: 251–256.

Demissie ZA, Tarnowycz M, Adal AM, Sarker LS, and Mahmoud SS (2019).  A lavender ABC transporter confers resistance to monoterpene toxicity in yeast. PLANTA, 249: 139–144.

Adal AM, Sarker LS, Malli RPN, Liang P and Mahmoud SS (2019). RNA-Seq in the discovery of a sparsely expressed scent‑determining monoterpene synthase in lavender (Lavandula).  PLANTA, 249:271–290

Hind K, Adal AM, Upson T and Mahmoud SS (2018). An assessment of plant DNA barcodes for the identification of cultivated Lavandula (Lamiaceae) taxa. BIOCATALYSIS AND AGRICULTURAL BIOTECHNOLOGY, 16: 459-4

Wells R, Troung F, Adal AM, Sarker LS, and Mahmoud SS (2018). Lavandula Essential Oils: A Current Review of Applications in Medicinal, Food, and Cosmetic Industries of Lavender. NATURAL PRODUCT COMMUNICATIONS 12: 1-15.

Adal AM, Sarker LS, Lemke A, and Mahmoud SS (2017). Isolation and functional characterization of a methyl jasmonate-responsive 3-carene synthase from Lavandula x intermedia.  PLANT MOLECULAR BIOLOGY 93(6):641-657.

Erland LAE, Bitcon CR, Lemke AD, and Mahmoud SS (2016). Antifungal Screening of

Lavender Essential oils and Essential Oil Constituents on three Post-harvest Fungal Pathogens. NATURAL PRODUCTS COMMUNICATIONS 11(4): 523-527.   

Sarker LS and Mahmoud SS (2015). Cloning and functional characterization of two monoterpene acetyltransferases from glandular trichomes of L. x intermedia. Planta, In Press.

Adal AM, Demissie ZA, and Mahmoud SS (2014). Identification, validation and cross-species transferability of novel Lavandula EST-SSRs. Planta 241(4): 987-1004

Erland AE, and Mahmoud SS (2014). An efficient method for the regeneration of lavandin (Lavandula x intermedia cv. Grosso). In Vitro Cell. Dev. Biol. – Plant 50:646–654

Sarker LS, Demissie ZA, and Mahmoud SS (2013). Cloning of a sesquiterpene synthase from Lavandula x intermedia glandular trichomes. Planta 238(5):983-989.

Demissie ZA, Erland AE, Rheault MR, and Mahmoud SS (2013). The biosynthetic origin of irregular monoterpenes in Lavandula: isolation and biochemical characterization of a novel prenyltransferase gene – lavandulyl diphosphate synthase.  JBC 288(9):6333-41.

Sarker LS, Galata M, Demissie ZA, and Mahmoud SS (2012). Molecular cloning and functional characterization of borneol dehydrogenase from the glandular trichomes of Lavandula x intermedia. ARCHIVES OF BIOCHEMISTRY & BIOPHYSICS 528: 163-170.

Baker J, Brown, K, Molcan E, Dai C, Makarenko S, Rajendiran E, Mahmoud SS, and Gibson DL (2012). Medicinal lavender modulates the enteric microflora to protect against Citrobacter rodentium-induced colitis. AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHYSIOLOGY – GASTROINTESTINAL AND LIVER PHYSIOLOGY 303:G825-G836.

Demissie ZA, Cella M, Sarker L, Thompson T, Rheault M, and Mahmoud SS (2012). Cloning, functional characterization and genomic organization of 1,8-cineole synthases from Lavandula. PLANT MOLECULAR BIOLOGY 79(4): 393-411.

Lange BM, Mahmoud SS, Wildung MR, Turner GW, Davis EDM, Lange I, Baker RC, Boydston RA, and Croteau RB (2011). Improving peppermint essential oil yield and composition by metabolic engineering. PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES USA 108(41): 16943-16948.

Demissie ZA, Sarker L, and Mahmoud SS (2011). Cloning and functional characterization of β-phellandrene synthase from Lavandula angustifoliaPLANTA 233: 685-696.

Woronuk G, Demissie ZA, Rheault M, and Mahmoud SS (2011). Biosynthesis and therapeutic properties of Lavandulaessential oil constituents. PLANTA MED 77(1): 7-15.

Lane A, Boeckelmann A, Woronuk G, Sarker L, and Mahmoud SS (2010). A Genomics resource for investigating regulation of essential oil production in L. angustifoliaPLANTA 231: 835-845.

Biswas K, Foster AJ, Aung T, and Mahmoud SS (2009). Essential oil production: relationship with abundance of glandular trichomes in aerial surface of plants. ACTA PHYSIOLOGIAE PLANTARUM 31(1): 13-19.

Desautels A, Biswas K, Lane A, Boeckelmann A, and Mahmoud SS (2009). Suppression of linalool acetate production in Lavandula x intermedia.  NATURAL PRODUCT COMMUNICATIONS 4: 1533-1536.


Apologies, but no results were found.