Helen Tai, Ph. D.

Image Helen Tai
Research Scientist

Research on potato genetics and genomics.

Current research and/or projects

Potato genomics and metabolomics research aimed at developing tools for selecting new potato varieties and improving crop management with the goal of enhancing environmental and economic sustainability of potato production.  

Research and/or project statements

  • Developing gene markers and genomic selection for potato breeding.
  • Enhancing potato genetic resources with wild Solanum relatives. 
  • Development of tools for selecting potato resistance to the insect herbivore, Colorado potato beetle.
  • Understanding potato responses to nitrogen and developing tools to optimize fertilizer use.
  • Increasing knowledge of potato genes underlying tuber storage quality (cold-induced sweetening), pigmentation, resistance to Verticillium wilt and drought.  



Professional activities / interests

  • International and national research teams for advancing potato genome sequencing.
  • Collaborations with potato breeders within and outside AAFC.
  • Member of the Potato Association of America and Canadian Society of Plant Biologists.
  • Work on projects with other professionals, technicians, support staff and students at the Centre.

Education and awards

Ph. D. Biochemistry, University of Ottawa

M. Sc. Anatomy, University of Toronto

B. Sc. (Distinction) Biochemistry, University of Toronto

Canadian Forest Service Merit Award

International experience and/or work

OECD Co-operative Research Fellowship to Plant and Food Research in New Zealand, 2011

Key publications

For a complete list of publications, please visit: AAFC Online

Tai, H. H., Lagüe, M., Thomson, S., Aurousseau, F., Neilson, J., Murphy, A., Bizimungu B., Davidson, C., Deveaux, V., Bègue, Y., Wang, H. Y., Xiong, X. and Jacobs J. (2020) Tuber transcriptome profiling of eight potato cultivars with different cold-induced sweetening responses to cold storage. Pl. Physio. Biochem., 146: 163-176. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.plaphy.2019.11.001

Kyriakidou, M., Achakkagari, S. A. Galvez Lopez, J. H., Zhu, X., Tang, C. Y., Tai, H. H. Anglin, N. L., Ellis, D. and Strömvik, M. V. (2019) Structural genome analysis in cultivated potato taxa. Theoretical and Applied Genetics, 133:951-966.

Barra, M., Meneses, C. Riquelme S., Pinto, M., Lagüe, M., Davidson, C. and Tai, H. H. (2019) Transcriptome profiles of contrasting potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) genotypes under water stress. Agronomy, 9:848 https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9120848

Paudel, J. R., Gardner, K. M., Bizimungu, B., De Koeyer, D., Song, J. and Tai, H. H.  (2019) Genetic mapping of steroidal glycoalkaloids using selective genotyping in potato. Am. J. Potato Res. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12230-019-09734-7

Maria Kyriakidou, Helen H. Tai, Noelle L. Anglin, David Ellis and Martina V. Strömvik (2018) Current Strategies of Polyploid Plant Genome Sequence Assembly. Frontiers in Plant Science, 21 November 2018, https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2018.01660.

Helen H. Tai, David De Koeyer, Mads Sønderkær, Sanne Hedegaard, Martin Lägue, Claudia Goyer,  Lana Nolan, Charlotte Davidson, Kyle Gardner, Jonathan Neilson, Jamuna Paudel, Agnes Murphy, Benoit Bizimungu, Hui Ying Wang, Xingyao Xiong, Dennis Halterman, and Kåre Lehmann Nielsen (2018) Verticillium dahliae disease resistance and the regulatory pathway for tuberization in potato.  11 (1):1-15 Plant Genome doi: 10.3835/plantgenome2017.05.0040.

Jamuna Risal Paudel, Charlotte Davidson, Jun Song, Itkin Maxim, Asaph Aharoni, and Helen H. Tai (2017) Pathogen and pest responses are altered in GLYCOALKALOID METABOLISM 4 RNAi Solanum tuberosum with reduced glycoalkaloids. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions, Vol. 30 (11):876-885 https://doi.org/10.1094/MPMI-02-17-0033-R

Neilson J., Lagüe M., Thompson S., Aurousseau F., Murphy A. M., Bizimungu B., Deveaux V., Bègue Y., Jacobs J.M.E., Tai H. H. (2017) Gene expression profiles predictive of cold-induced sweetening in potato. Functional and Integrative Genomics, DOI: 10.1007/s10142-017-0549-9

José Héctor Gálvez, Helen H. Tai, Noelle A. Barkley, Kyle Gardner, David Ellis, and Martina V. Strömvik (2017) Understanding potato with the help of genomics. AIMS Agriculture and Food 2(1): 16-39 DOI: 10.3934/agrfood.2017.1.16.

José Héctor Galvez, Helen H. Tai, Martin Lague, Bernie Zebarth and Martina Stromvik (2016) The nitrogen responsive transcriptome in potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) reveals significant gene regulatory motifs. Scientific Reports 6:26090 doi:10.1038/srep26090

Pankaj Banik, Wiepeng Zeng, Helen Tai, Benoit Bizimungu and Karen Tanino (2016) Effects of drought acclimation on drought stress resistance in three potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) genotypes. Env. Exp. Bot. 126:76-89 DOI information: 10.1016/j.envexpbot.2016.01.008

Helen H. Tai, Kraig Worrall, David De Koeyer, Yvan Pelletier, George C. C. Tai and Larry Calhoun (2015) Colorado potato beetle resistance in Solanum oplocense  Solanum tuberosum intercross hybrids and metabolite markers for selection.  Am. J. Potato Res. 92:684–696 DOI 10.1007/s12230-015-9484-2.

Helen H. Tai and Bernie J. Zebarth (2015) Effect of Time of Day of Sampling on Potato Nitrogen Status Gene Expression Indicators. Am J. Potato Res. 92 (2): 284-293 DOI 10.1007/s12230-015-9429-9.

Helen H. Tai, Kraig Worrall, Yvan Pelletier, David De Koeyer, and Larry A. Calhoun (2014) Comparative Metabolite Profiling of Solanum tuberosum against Six Wild Solanum Species with Colorado Potato Beetle Resistance.  J. Agric. Food Chem.62 (36), pp 9043–9055, DOI: 10.1021/jf502508y

Martin G. Scanlon and Helen H. Tai (2013) Potato Utilization in Canada.  Canadian Food Insights. 1(2):36-39.

Helen H. Tai*, Claudia Goyer, H. W. (Bud) Platt, David De Koeyer, Agnes Murphy, Pedro Uribe and Dennis Halterman (2013) Decreased defense gene expression in tolerance versus resistance to Verticillium dahliae in potato.  Functional and Integrative Genomics, 13(3):367-78, doi:10.1007/s10142-013-0329-0

Helen H. Tai*, Claudia Goyer, Agnes M. Murphy (2013) Targeted expression profiling of anthocyanin biosynthetic enzyme, MYB and bHLH transcription factor genes in potato clones with variation in anthcyanins and common scab resistance.  Botany, 91(10): 722-730, doi: 10.1139/cjb-2012-0025.

Zebarth, B.J., Tai, H.H., Luo, S., Millard, P., De Koeyer, D.L., Li, X.-Q., and Xiong, X. (2011). "Differential gene expression as an indicator of nitrogen sufficiency in field-grown potato plants.", Plant and Soil, 345(1), pp. 387-400. doi: 10.1007/s11104-011-0793-z



Adjunct professor at Queen's University.

Honorary Associate at University of New Brunswick.