Rima Menassa Ph.D.

Image Rima Menassa
Research Scientist

Current research and/or projects

Technology development of alternatives to subtherapeutic and metaphylactic antimicrobials used in the beef industry (2016-2019)

Innovative synthetic biology approach for the production of particulate subunit vaccines and antibodies to be used for oral immunization and protection of farm animals. (2018-2021)

Development of IPM tools using genomic and ecological approaches for the control of insect pests in greenhouses.(2016-2019)

RNAi trap plants for horticulture (2018-2021)

Research and/or project statements

Plants as bioreactors for the production of veterinary vaccines and antibodies as alternatives to antibiotics

Transforming the chloroplast genome of various plant species for the production of dsRNA for insect pest control, and for the production of veterinary vaccines

Education and awards

  • PhD. in Molecular Genetics, McGill University
  • M.Sc. in Plant Pathology, American University of Beirut
  • B.Sc. in Agriculture, American University of Beirut

Key publications

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

Marques LE, Silva BB, Dutra RAF, Pereira Florean EO, Menassa R and Florindo Guedes MI. 2020 Transient expression of dengue virus NS1 antigen in Nicotiana benthamiana for use as a diagnostic antigen. Front. Plant Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fpls.2019.01674

Scott IM, Zhu H, Schieck K, Follick A, Reynolds LB, Menassa R. 2019. Non-target Effects of hyperthermostable α-amylase transgenic Nicotiana tabacum in the laboratory and the field. Front Plant Sci. 10:878. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2019.00878

Tran  HH,  Chen  B,  Chen  H,  Menassa  R,  Hao  X, Bernards  M,  Huner  NPA,  and Wang  A. 2019. Development  of  a  cucumber  green  mottle mosaic virus-based expression vector for the production in cucumber of neutralizing epitopes against a devastating animal virus. Journal of Virological Methods, doi: 10.1016/j.jviromet.2019.04.006

Saberianfar R, Chin-Fatt A,  Scott A, Henry K, Topp E, and Menassa R. 2019. Plant-produced chimeric VHH-sIgA against enterohemorrhagic E. coli intimin shows cross-serotype inhibition of bacterial adhesion to epithelial cells. Front. Plant Sci. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2019.00270

Burke WG, Kaplanoglu E, Kolotilin I, Menassa R and Donly C. 2019. RNA Interference in the Tobacco Hornworm, Manduca sexta, Using Plastid-Encoded Long Double-Stranded RNA. Front. Plant Sci. 10:313. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2019.00313

Ramírez-Alanis IA, Renaud JB, García-Lara S, Menassa R, Cardineau GA. 2018. Transient co-expression with three O-glycosylation enzymes allows production of GalNAc-O-glycosylated Granulocyte-Colony Stimulating Factor in N. benthamiana. Plant Methods 14:98. doi: 10.1186/s13007-018-0363-y.

Saberianfar, S. & Menassa, R. 2018. Strategies to Increase Expression and Accumulation of Recombinant Proteins. In Allison R. Kermode (Ed.) Molecular Pharming: Applications, Challenges, and Emerging Areas, First Edition (pp 119-135).  John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Khamis, Z., & Menassa, R. 2018. Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus. In J. MacDonald (Ed.), Prospects of Plant-Based Vaccines in Veterinary Medicine (pp. 255-266). Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing AG.

Chin-Fatt, A., Topp, E., & Menassa, R. 2018. The Benefit of a Plant-Based Cattle Vaccine for Reducing Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia Coli Shedding and Improving Food Safety. In J. MacDonald (Ed.), Prospects of Plant-Based Vaccines in Veterinary Medicine (pp. 285-310). Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing AG.

Feeney M, Kittelmann M, Menassa R, Hawes C, Frigerio L. 2018. Protein storage vacuoles originate by remodelling of pre-existing vacuoles in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Phys. 177(1):241-254. doi: 10.1104/pp.18.00010

Ceballo Y, Tiel K, López A, Cabrera G, Pérez M, Ramos O, Rosabal Y, Montero C, Menassa R, Depicker A, Hernández A. 2017. High accumulation in tobacco seeds of hemagglutinin antigen from avian (H5N1) influenza. Transgenic Res. 26 (6) :775-789. doi: 10.1007/s11248-017-0047-9.

Miletic S, Hünerberg M, Kaldis A, MacDonald J, Leuthreau A, McAllister T, Menassa R.  2017. A Plant-Produced Candidate Subunit Vaccine Reduces Shedding of Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli in Ruminants. Biotechnol J. 12(10). doi: 10.1002/biot.201700405. Epub 2017 Sep 28.

Reuter LJ, Shahbazi MA, Mäkilä EM, Salonen JJ, Saberianfar R, Menassa R, Santos HA, Joensuu JJ, Ritala A. 2017. Coating Nanoparticles with Plant-Produced Transferrin-Hydrophobin Fusion Protein Enhances Their Uptake in Cancer Cells. Bioconjug Chem.28(6):1639-1648. doi:10.1021/acs.bioconjchem.7b00075.

Zhu H, Reynolds LB, Menassa R. 2017. A hyper-thermostable α-amylase from Pyrococcus furiosus accumulates in Nicotiana tabacum as functional aggregates. BMC Biotechnol. 17(1):53. doi: 10.1186/s12896-017-0372-3.

Saberianfar R, Menassa R. 2017 Protein bodies - How the ER deals with high accumulation of recombinant proteins. Plant Biotechnol J. 15(6):671-673. doi: 10.1111/pbi.12730.

MacDonald J, Miletic S, Gaildry T, Chin-Fatt A, Menassa R. 2017 Co-expression with the Type 3 Secretion Chaperone CesT from Enterohemorrhagic E. coli Increases Accumulation of Recombinant Tir in Plant Chloroplasts. Front Plant Sci. 8:283. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2017.00283.

Arthur LL, Chung JJ, Jankirama P, Keefer KM, Kolotilin I, Pavlovic-Djuranovic S, Chalker DL, Grbic V, Green R, Menassa R, True HL, Skeath JB, Djuranovic S. 2017 Rapid generation of hypomorphic mutations. Nat Commun. 8:14112. doi: 10.1038/ncomms14112

Saberianfar R, Sattarzadeh A, Joensuu JJ, Kohalmi, SE, Menassa R. 2016. Protein bodies in leaves actively exchange contents through the endoplasmic reticulum. Front Plant Sci. 7:693. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2016.00693

Topp E, Irwin R, McAllister T, Lessard M, Joensuu JJ, Kolotilin I, Conrad U, Stöger E, Mor T, Warzecha H, Hall JC, McLean MD, Cox E, Devriendt B, Potter A, Depicker A, Virdi V, Holbrook L, Doshi K, Dussault M, Friendship R, Yarosh O, Yoo HS, MacDonald J, Menassa R. 2016. The case for plant-made veterinary immunotherapeutics. Biotechnol Adv. 34(5):597-604. doi: 10.1016/j.biotechadv.2016.02.007.

Miletic SP, Simpson DJ, Szymanski CM, Deyholos MK, Menassa R. 2016.  A plant-produced bacteriophage tailspike protein for the control of Salmonella.  Front Plant Sci. 6:1221. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2015.01221.

MacDonald J, Doshi K, Dussault M, Hall JC, Holbrook L, Jones G, Kaldis A, Klima CL, Macdonald P, McAllister T, McLean MD, Potter A, Richman A, Shearer H, Yarosh O, Yoo HS, Topp E, Menassa R. 2015. Bringing plant-based veterinary vaccines to market: Managing regulatory and commercial hurdles. Biotechnol Adv. 33(8):1572-81. doi: 10.1016/j.biotechadv.2015.07.007.

Duwadi K, Chen L, Menassa R, Dhaubhadel S. 2015. Identification, Characterization and Down-Regulation of Cysteine Protease Genes in Tobacco for Use in Recombinant Protein Production. PLoS One 10(7):e0130556. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0130556.

Sattarzadeh A, Saberianfar R, Zipfel WR, Menassa R, Hanson MR. 2015. Green to red photoconversion of GFP for protein tracking in vivo. Scientific Reports 2015. 5:11771. doi: 10.1038/srep11771.

Saberianfar R, Joensuu JJ, Conley AJ, Menassa R. 2015. Protein body formation in leaves of Nicotiana benthamiana: a concentration-dependent mechanism influenced by the presence of fusion tags. Plant Biotechnol J. 13(7):927-37. doi: 10.1111/pbi.12329

Kolotilin I, Topp E, Cox E, Devriendt B, Conrad U, Joensuu J, Stöger E, Warzecha H, McAllister T, McLean MD, Hall JC, Menassa R. 2014. Plant-based solutions for veterinary immunotherapeutics and prophylactics. Vet. Res. 45:117. doi: 10.1186/s13567-014-0117-4.

Pereira EO, Kolotilin I, Conley AJ, Menassa R. 2014. Production and characterization of in planta transiently produced polygalacturanase from Aspergillus niger and its fusions with hydrophobin or ELP tags. BMC Biotechnol. 14:59.

Feeney M, Frigerio L, Kohalmi SE, Cui Y, Menassa R. 2013. Reprogramming cells to study vacuolar development. Frontiers in Plant Sci. - Plant Cell Biology. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2013.00493. Review.

Pereira EO, Tsang A, McAllister T, Menassa R. 2013. The production and characterization of a new active lipase from Acremonium alcalophilum using a plant bioreactor. Biotechnology for Biofuels 6(1):111

Gutierrez SP, Saberianfar R, Kohalmi S, Menassa R*. 2013. Protein body formation in stable transgenic tobacco expressing elastin-like polypeptide and hydrophobin fusion proteins. BMC Biotechnol. 13:40.

Feeney M, Frigerio L, Harada JJ, Cui Y, Menassa R*. 2013. Following Vegetative to Embryonic Developmental Transitions by Over-expressing LEAFY COTYLEDON2 in Leaves of Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Phys. 162(4):1881-96

Kolotilin I, Kaldis A, Pereira E, Laberge S, Menassa R*. 2013. Diverse Effects of Chloroplast Expression Cassette Configuration on Transplastomic Production of Hemicellulases in Tobacco. Biotechnology for Biofuels 6(1):65.

Chen L, Dempsey BR, Gyenis L, Menassa R, Brandle JE, Dhaubhadel S*. 2013. Identification of the factors that control synthesis and accumulation of a therapeutic protein, human immune-regulatory interleukin-10 in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Biotechnol J. 2013 11(5):546-54

Kaldis A, Ahmad A, Reid A, McGarvey B, Brandle J, Ma S, Jevnikar A, Kohalmi SE, Menassa R. 2013. High level production of human interleukin-10 fusions in tobacco cell suspension cultures. Plant Biotechnol J. 11(5):535-45

Kolotilin I, Kaldis A, Devriendt B, Joensuu J, Cox E, Menassa R. 2012. Production of a subunit vaccine candidate against porcine post-weaning diarrhea in high-biomass transplastomic tobacco. PLoS One.7(8):e42405.

Research facility

1391 Sandford Street
London, ON N5V 4T3


Member of the International Society for Plant Molecular Farming

Executive board member of the Canadian Association for Plant Biotechnology

Board of Directors for Plant Canada

Adjunct professor, Department of Biology, Western University, London, Ontario