Dr. Shawna MacKinnon

Image shawna mackinnon
Research Scientist, Phytochemist
  • Natural products chemistry: profiling and structure elucidation of secondary metabolities (i.e. carotenoids, glucosinolates, anthocyanins, glycoalkaloids, plant growth hormones, etc.) in terrestrial plants (berries, medicinal plants, vegetables, etc.), marine seaweeds and microalgae.
  • Chemical compositional analysis of fruit, wine (primary and secondary fermentations) and vine buds as it relates to viticulture and enological research.
  • Hydroponic controlled environment agriculture (i.e. containerized hydroponic systems using supplemental lighting)

Current research and/or projects

  • Northern Agriculture: Growth of nutrient-rich plants for northern and remote communities; Inuit-led agriculture in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut
  • The study of vine performance and how it effects wine quality and chemistry
  • Lace plant anthocyanins: their role in window formation and anticancer activity
  • Improvement of quality attributes in strawberry, raspberry and blackberry using metabolomic and genomic approaches
  • Carotenoid producing yeast of biotechnological importance

Education and awards

1985       BSc (1st class honors)      University of New Brunswick (Fredericton, NB)

1988       MSc (Pharmacy)               Dalhousie University (Halifax, NS)

1995       PhD (Chemistry)               University of Ottawa (Ottawa, ON)

Key publications


  • Abuzaytoun, R., Budge, S., Truelstrup Hansen, L., MacKinnon, S.. Modification of the Ferrous Oxidation-Xylenol Orange Method for Determination of Peroxide Value in Highly Pigmented Sea Cucumber Viscera Lipid. J. Am. Oil Chem. Soc. 97:509-516 (2020).



  • Steevensz A.J., MacKinnon, S.L., Hankinson, R., Craft, C., Connan, S., Stengel, D.B., Melanson, J.E.. Profiling phlorotannins in brown macroalgae by liquid chromatography – high resolution mass spectrometry. Phytochemical Analysis 23(5): 547-53 (2012).


  • Munday, R. Quilliam, M., LeBlanc, P., Lewis, N., Gallant, P., Sperker, S., Ewart, S., MacKinnon, S.. Investigations into the toxicology of spirolides, a group of marine phycotoxins. Toxins 4(1), 1-14 (2012).


  • Kondo, M., MacKinnon, S.L., Craft, C.C., Matchett, M.D., Hurta, R.A.R., Neto, C.C.. Ursolic acid and its esters: occurrence in cranberries and other Vaccinium fruit and effects on matrix metalloproteinase activity in DU145 prostate tumor cells. J. Sci. Food Agric. 91(5): 789-96 (2011).


  • Perez, R.A., Rehmann, N., Crain, S., LeBlanc, P., Craft, C., MacKinnon, S.L., Reeves, K., Burton, I.W., Walter, J.A., Hess, P., Quilliam, M.A., Melanson, J.E.. The preparation of certified calibration solutions for azaspiracid-1, -2, and -3, potent marine biotoxins found in shellfish.Anal. Bioanal. Chem. 398: 2243-2252 (2010).


  • MacKinnon, S.L., Hiltz, D., Ugarte, R., Craft, C.A.. Improved methods of analysis for betaines in Ascophyllum nodosum and its commercial seaweed extracts.J. Appl. Phycol. 22(4): 489-494 (2010).


  • Roach, J.S., LeBlanc, P., Lewis, N.I., Munday, R., Quilliam, M.A., MacKinnon, S.L.. Characterization of a New Subclass of Spirolides from Alexandrium ostenfeldii. J. Nat. Prod. 72: 1237-1240 (2009).


  • Simmons-Boyce, J., Purcell S.L., Nelson, C.M., MacKinnon, S.L.. Dietary Ascophyllum nodosumincreases urinary excretion of tricarboxylic acid cycle intermediates in male Sprague-Dawley rats. J. Nutrition 139(8): 1487-1494 (2009).


  • Subramanian, S., Ross, N.W., MacKinnon, S.L.. Myxinidin, a novel antimicrobial peptide from the epidermal mucus of hagfish, Myxine glutinosa L. Marine Biotechnology 11(6): 748-757 (2009).


  • Rayirath, P., Benkel, B., Hodges, D.M., Allan-Wojtas, P., MacKinnon, S., Critchley, A.T., Prithiviraj, B.. Lipophilic components of the brown seaweed, Ascophyllum nodosum, enhance freezing tolerance in Arabidopsis thaliana. Planta 230(1): 135-147 (2009).


  • Subramanian, S., Ross, N.W., MacKinnon, S.L.. Comparison of the biochemical composition of normal epidermal mucus and extruded slime of hagfish (Myxine glutinosa L.). Fish Shellfish Immunol. 25(5):625-632 (2008).


  • Rayorath, P., Khan, W., Palanisamy, R., MacKinnon, S.L.,Stefanova, R., Hankins, S.D., Critchley, A.T., Prithiviraj, B.. Extracts of the brown seaweed Ascophyllum nodosum induce gibberellic acid (GA3)-independent amylase activity in barley. J. Plant Growth Reg. 27(4): 370-379 (2008).


  • Subramanian, S., MacKinnon, S. L., Ross N.W.. Comparison of antimicrobial activity in the epidermal mucus extracts of fish. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. B Biochem. Mol. Biol. 150(1): 85-92 (2008).


  • Craigie, J.S., MacKinnon, S.L., Walter, J.A.. Liquid seaweed extracts identified using 1H NMR profiles. J. Appl. Phycol. 20(5): 665-671 (2008).


  • Kalt, W., MacKinnon, S., McDonald, J., Vinqvist, M., Craft, C., Howell A.. Phenolics of Vaccinium berries and other fruit crops. J. Sci. Food Agric. 88(1): 68-76 (2008).


  • MacKinnon, S.L., Hodder, M., Craft, C.C., Simons-Boyce, J.. Silyamandin, a novel flavanolignan isolated from milk thistle tinctures. Planta Med. 73(11): 1214-1216 (2007).


  • Subramanian, S., MacKinnon, S. L., Ross N.W.. A comparative study on the non-specific immune parameters in the epidermal mucus of various fish species. Comparat. Biochem. Physiol. 148(3):256-263 (2007).


  • Kalt, W., Howell A.B., MacKinnon, S.L., McDonald, Goldwin, I.X.. Selected bioactivities of Vaccinium berries and other fruit crops in relation to their phenolic contents. J. Sci. Food Agric. 87(12): 2279-2285 (2007).


  • Omar, S., Marcotte, M., Fields, P., Sanchez, P.E., Poveda, L., Mata, R., Jimenez, A., Durst, T., Zhang, J., MacKinnon, S., Leaman, D., Arnason, J.T., Philogene, B.J.R.. Antifeedant activities of terpenoids isolated from tropical Rutales. J. Stored Prod. Res. 43(1), 92-96 (2007).


  • MacKinnon, S.L., Walter, J.A., Quilliam, M.A., Cembella, A.D., LeBlanc, P., Burton, I.W., Hardstaff, W.R., Lewis, N.I.. Two new spirolides isolated from Danish strains of the toxigenic dinoflagellate Alexandrium ostenfeldii. J. Nat. Prod. 69(7): 983-987 (2006).


  • MacKinnon, S.L., Cembella, A.D., Burton, I.W., Lewis, N., LeBlanc, P., Walter, J.A.. Biosynthesis of 13-Desmethyl Spirolide C by the Dinoflagellate Alexandrium ostenfeldii. J. Org. Chem. 71(23), 8724 - 8731 (2006).


  • Suzuki, T., Walter, J.A., LeBlanc, P., MacKinnon, S., Miles, C.O., Wilkins, A.L., Munday, R., Beuzenberg, V., MacKenzie, A.L., Jensen, D.J., Cooney, J.M., Quilliam, M.A.. Identification of pectenotoxin-11 as 34S-hydroxypectenotoxin-2, a new pectenotoxin analogue in the toxic dinoflagellate Dinophysis acuta from New Zealand. Chem. Res. Toxicol., 19: 310-318 (2006).


  • Matchett, M.D., MacKinnon, S.L., Sweeney, M.I., Gottschall-Pass, K.T., Hurta, R.A.R.. Inhibition of matrix metalloproteinase activity in DU145 human prostate cancer cells by flavonoids from lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) involves protein kinase C and mitogen activated protein kinase mediated events. J. Nutri. Biochem., 17(2): 117-125 (2006).


  • Matchett, M.D., MacKinnon, S.L., Sweeney, M.I., Gottschall-Pass, K.T., Hurta, R.A.R.. Effect of blueberry flavonoids on matrix metalloproteinase expression in DU145 human prostate cancer cells. Biochem. Cell Biol., 83(5): 637-643 (2005).


  • Aasen, J., MacKinnon, S.L., LeBlanc, P., Walter, J.A., Hovgaard, P., Aune, T., and Quilliam, M.A.. Detection and identification of spirolides in Norwegian shellfish and plankton. Chem. Res. Toxicol., 18, 509-515 (2005).

·Solanky, K.S., Dacanay, A., Burton, I.W., MacKinnon, S.L., Walter, J.A.. Metabolic changes in Atlantic salmon exposed to Aeromonas salmonicida detected by 1H-nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy of plasma. Diseases Aquat. Organ., 65, 107-114 (2005).


·Neto, C.C., Sweeney-Nixon, M.I., Lamoureaux, T.L., Solomon, F., Kondo, M., MacKinnon, S.L.. Cranberry phenolics: Effects on oxidative processes, neuron cell death and tumor cell growth. In:  Phenolic compounds in Foods and Natural Health Products, ACS Books, Chi-Tang Ho, ed., 320 pp (2005).

  • Fast, M.D., Ross, N.W., Craft, C., Locke, S., MacKinnon, S.L., Johnson, S.C.. Lepeophtheirus salmonis: Characterization of prostaglandin E2 in secretory products of the salmon louse by RP-HPLC and mass spectrometry. Experimental Parasitology, 107(1-2), 110-114 (2004).


  • Murphy, B.T., MacKinnon, S.L., Yan, X., Hammond, G.B., Vaisberg, A.J. andNeto, C.C.. Identification of triterpene hydroxycinnamates with antitumor activity from cranberry fruit (Vaccinium macrocarpon).J.  Agri.  Food Chem. 51(12), 3541-3545 (2003).


  • Gill, S., Mueller, R., Murphy, M., Clausen, J., Richards, D., Quilliam, M., MacKinnon, S., LeBlanc P.,Pulido, O..Neural Injury Biomarkers of Novel Shellfish Toxins, Spirolides: A pilot study using immunochemical and transcriptional analysis.Neurotox. 24(4-5), 593-604 (2003).


  • Sweeney, M.I., Kalt, W., MacKinnon, S.L., McDonald, J.E., Ashby, J., Blacquiere, D.V.P.,Gottschall-Pass, K.T.. Short Term Feeding of Diets Enriched in Lowbush Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium  Aiton) Extract Decreases Stroke Severity in Rats. Nutri. Neurosci., 5(6), 427-431 (2002).


Research facility

32 Main Street
Kentville, NS B4N 1J5


  • American Society for Enology and Viticulture
  • Association of Education and Research Greenhouse Curators
  • Test-Site Manager, Minor Use Pesticide Program (2019 – present
  • Grape Growers Association of Nova Scotia