Dr. Samir C. Debnath, P.Ag.

Image Samir C. Debnath
Research Scientist

Plant Propagation, Biotechnology, Biodiversity and Germplasm Improvement

Current research and/or projects

1. Innovative techniques for screening, propagation and utilization of wild berry crops for sustainable northern agriculture

2. Tissue culture techniques for the rapid multiplication, selection and improvement of blueberry plants 

3. Understanding Indigenous food systems and revitalizing key Indigenous food plants in Interior and Coastal regions of British Columbia

4. Lingonberry from the Prairies: Enhancing the sustainable development of lingonberry with health benefits

5. Blueberry development program: evaluation and selection under field condition

Research and/or project statements

The aim of research is to develop and improve in vitro and molecular technologies for propagation and characterization of northern berry crops, in broad and multi-disciplinary areas which diversify and add value to rural economies in northern summer regions of Canada at national and international levels. Research includes (i) new areas of berry micropropagation (somatic embryogenesis, stationary bioreactor) and molecular studies (DNA methylation, fingerprinting) leading to the development of new propagation techniques, (ii) to generate knowledge on clonal fidelity and epigenetics to support the berry industry in Canada and abroad and (iii) to characterize and utilize the wild berry germplasm for propagation, conservation, selection, property rights protection and genetic enhancement.

Professional activities / interests

Editor-in-Chief, Scientia Horticulturae (2013 - 2016).

Panel Chair of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Peer Review process for the NP 301 Panel 7B; Berries (2018) of the USDA, ARS 301 Plant Genetic Resources, Genomics & Genetic Improvement National Program 2017-18 (Cb-1.21). 

Special Issue Editor (Guest Editor) of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395).

Academic Editor and Editorial Board Members - Agronomy (MDPI), 2017 to present (https://www.mdpi.com/journal/agronomy/editors).

Academic Editor and Editorial Board Members - Diversity (MDPI), 2009 to present (http://www.mdpi.com/journal/diversity/editors/).

President – Canadian Society for Horticultural Science (CSHS) – (2011 – 2016).

Registrar - Newfoundland and Labrador Institute of Agrologists (NLIA) – (2010- present).

Conference Co-Chair - 12th International Vaccinium Symposium,  Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, 2021.

Adjunct Professors and co-supervision of Ph.D. student - Amity Institute of Biotechnology, Amity University, Noida-Greater Noida Expressway, Gautam Budha Nagar, India.

Adjunct Professor and co-supervision of Ph.D. students - Biology, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.

Education and awards

Postdoc. Fed. Biol. Res. Centre, Germany 1985-1986

Postdoc. Nottingham University, U.K.

Ph.D. Indian Agric. Res. Institute, New Delhi 1982

M.Sc. Bangladesh Agric. University, Mymensingh 1974

B.Sc.Ag. (Hons.) Bangladesh Agric. University, Mymensingh 1973

Agricultural Institute of Canada (AIC) Award 2014

International experience and/or work

Collaborative research with colleagues in many countries including Norway, United States, India, Korea and Bangladesh.

Key publications

  1. Debnath, S.C., An, D. (2019). Antioxidant properties and structured biodiversity in a diverse set of wild cranberry clones. Heliyon, [online] 5(4), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2019.e01493

    2019 - View publication details

  2. Ghosh, A., Igamberdiev, A.U., Debnath, S.C. (2018). Thidiazuron-induced somatic embryogenesis and changes of antioxidant properties in tissue cultures of half-high blueberry plants. Scientific Reports, [online] 8(1), http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-35233-6

    2018 - View publication details

  3. Siow, Y.L. and Debnath, S.C. (2018). "Lingonberry Juice May Help Kidneys Heal - Weekly Science Story, Sep 12, 2018; circulated by Dr. Brian Gray, Assistant Deputy Minister, STB and Dr. Gilles Saindon, Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, STB, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada."

    2018 - View publication details

  4. Debnath, S.C. (2018). “Thidiazuron in micropropagation of small fruits.”, in Ahmad, N, and Faisal, M. (eds.) - Thidiazuron: From urea derivative to plant growth regulator, Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd., Singapore, pp. 139-158 (https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-8004-3_6).

    2018 - View publication details

  5. Goyali, J.C., Igamberdiev, A.U., Debnath, S.C. (2018). DNA methylation in lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Ait.) propagated by softwood cutting and tissue culture. Canadian Journal of Plant Science, [online] 98(5), 1035-1044. http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/cjps-2017-0297

    2018 - View publication details

  6. Ghosh, A., Igamberdiev, A.U. and Debnath, S.C. (2018). Phenolic/flavonoid content and antioxidant activity during somatic embryogenesis of highbush and lowbush blueberry plants. In Vitro Cell. Develop. Biol. - Plant 54 (Suppl 1):S1; https://doi.org/10.1007/s11627-018-9927-9; 2018 Int. Assoc. Plant Biotechnol. Congr. Abst. Issue, O-109; S51; Abstract; http://iapb2018.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/IAPB2018-Book-of-Abstracts.pdf.

    2018 - View publication details

  7. Debnath, S.C. (2018). In vitro and molecular approaches combined with conventional methods to improve small fruit crops. In Vitro Cell. Develop. Biol. - Plant 54 (Suppl 1):S1; https://doi.org/10.1007/s11627-018-9927-9; 2018 Int. Assoc. Plant Biotechnol. Congr. Abst. Issue, O-20; S86; Abstract; http://iapb2018.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/IAPB2018-Book-of-Abstracts.pdf.

    2018 - View publication details

  8. Tailor, S., Bykova, N.V., Igamberdiev, A.U., Debnath, S.C. (2017). Structural pattern and genetic diversity in blueberry (Vaccinium) clones and cultivars using EST-PCR and microsatellite markers. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution, [online] 64(8), 2071-2082. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10722-017-0497-1

    2017 - View publication details

  9. Siow Y.L., Isaak C.K., Prashar S., Stebbing J., Madduma Hewage S., Debnath S., and O K. (2017) Berries for your renal health. 2017 International Tropical Agriculture Conference. November 20-22, 2017 Brisbane, Australia, Abstract 179, Symposium Chair and Invited Talk.

    2017 - View publication details

  10. Ghosh, A., Igamberdiev, A.U., Debnath, S.C. (2017). Detection of DNA methylation pattern in thidiazuron-induced blueberry callus using methylation-sensitive amplification polymorphism. Biologia Plantarum, [online] 61(3), 511-519. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10535-016-0678-3

    2017 - View publication details

  11. Isaak, C.K., Wang, P., Prashar, S., Karmin, O., Brown, D.C.W., Debnath, S.C., Siow, Y.L. (2017). Supplementing diet with Manitoba lingonberry juice reduces kidney ischemia-reperfusion injury. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, [online] 97(9), 3065-3076. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jsfa.8200

    2017 - View publication details

  12. Debnath, S.C. (2017). Temporary immersion and stationary bioreactors for mass propagation of true-to-type highbush, half-high, and hybrid blueberries (Vaccinium spp.). Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology, [online] 92(1), 72-80. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14620316.2016.1224606

    2017 - View publication details

  13. Debnath, S.C. (2016). "Genetic Diversity and Erosion in Berries.", in Ahuja, M.R. and Jain, S.M. (eds.) - Genetic Diversity and Erosion in Plants, Case histories, Volume 2, Springer, pp. 75-129.

    2016 - View publication details

  14. Abeywickrama, G., Debnath, S.C., Ambigaipalan, P., Shahidi, F. (2016). Phenolics of Selected Cranberry Genotypes (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.) and Their Antioxidant Efficacy. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, [online] 64(49), 9342-9351. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.jafc.6b04291

    2016 - View publication details

  15. McKenzie, D.B., Debnath, S.C., Dixon, P.L., Bishop, G.A. Impact of surface mulch type on new plantings of half-high blueberry cultivars. Symposium Program Book, 3rd Biennial Symposium: Our Food, Our Future – Research that Feeds Newfoundland and Labrador, November 02-03, 2016, St. John’s, NL, Canada; p. 29-30, poster 6. (http://www.ourfoodourfuture.ca/agenda)

    2016 - View publication details

  16. D.B. McKenzie*, S.C. Debnath, P.L. Dixon, and G.A. Bishop. 2016. Flower occurrence in a 2012 planting of four half-high blueberry cultivars in eastern Newfoundland as affected by surface mulch type. 58th Annual Farm Field day St. John's Research and Development Centre St. John's 2016/08/13. Poster

    2016 - View publication details

  17. D.B. McKenzie*, S.C. Debnath, P.L. Dixon, and G.A. Bishop. 2016. Flower occurrence in a 2012 planting of four half-high blueberry cultivars in eastern Newfoundland as affected by surface mulch type. CSHS Annual Conference, Montreal. July 2016. p38

    2016 - View publication details

  18. Siow, Y.L., Isaak, C.K., Prashar, S., Wong, M.H., Bhusal, A., O, K., Brown, D., Debnath, S., Ross, K., Blewett, H., Aliani, M., and Utioh, A. (2016) Health benefits of emerging crops in Canada. Therapeutic Applications of Functional Food and Bioactives, April 21-23, 2016 Winnipeg, Canada. Invited Speaker.

    2016 - View publication details

  19. Isaak, C.K., Wang, P., Prashar, S., Wong, M.H., O, K., Brown, D.C.W., Debnath, S.C., and Siow, Y.L. (2016) Lingonberry juice consumption protects the kidney against ischemic-reperfusion injury. Therapeutic Applications of Functional Food and Bioactives, April 21-23, 2016 Winnipeg, Canada

    2016 - View publication details

  20. Debnath, S.C., McKenzie, D.B., Bishop, G.A., and Percival, D.C. (2016). "Strategic approaches to propagate berry crop nuclear stocks using a bioreactor.", Acta Horticulturae (ISHS), 1113, pp. 47-52. doi : 10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1113.6

    2016 - View publication details

Research facility

308 Brookfield Road, BLDG 25
St. John's, NL A1E 6J5


1. International Association for Plant Biotechnology.

2. International Society for Horticultural Science.                                                             

3. Canadian Society for Horticultural Science.                                                                               

4. American Society for Horticultural Science.

5. Newfoundland and Labrador Institute of Agrologists.