Sara L. Martin Ph.D.

Research Scientist

Current research and/or projects

Areas of Expertise

  • Determining the potential for transgene escape (Brassicaceae)

  • Understanding the evolution and spread of herbicide resistance

  • Improve information availability for bioresources (Brassicaceae)

  • Understanding the evolutionary role of polyploidization

Research and/or project statements

For most of human history weeds have been controlled using labour intensive hand weeding. Herbicides introduced in the 1940s revolutionized weed control in Canada leading to a relative abundance of food/per unit of labour in most industrialized countries. However, 60 weeds have evolved herbicide resistance in Canada and are estimated to cost Canadian Prairie farmers 1.1-1.5 billion/annually. In the US, farmers are returning to hand weeding because herbicides are now ineffective (e.g. in 2016 85% of cotton in Georgia was hand weeded).

         Herbicide resistance is a clear threat to agricultural production within Canada and globally.

My research addresses this threat to the value chain by 1) determining the potential of herbicide resistance transgenes spread to weedy relatives and, 2) understanding the evolutionary consequences of herbicide resistance arising in weed species. This research is cross cutting with relevance to all nine sectors. However, it fits best within the biodiversity and bioresource sector by:

     1) increasing our knowledge of herbicide resistant species,

     2) enhancing our understanding of Canada’s biodiversity by studying the wild Brassicaceae species that may receive transgenes, and

     3) providing authoritative science to support the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in meeting requirements of domestic legislation such as the Plant Protection Act, Plant Protection Regulations, the Seeds Act, and Seed Regulations (Part 5).

I am an evolutionary biologist rather than agronomist and I approach projects from that perspective. I combine field work and molecular approaches, which provide unprecedented power to understand evolutionary processes.

Professional activities / interests

Areas of Research

  • Plant Systematics, Ecology and Evolution
  • Weeds and Invasive Species
  • Plant Genetics and Genomics
  • Polyploidy

Areas of Technical Expertise

  • Flow cytometry and cytology

  • Genetics and genomics (e.g. ddRADTAGs and PacBio)

  • Bioinformatics  (e.g. population genetics and genome assembly)

  • Statistics (R)

  • Field work


Key publications

  1. Côté, M.J., Leduc, L., Kerr, D., Dollard, C., Catling, P.M., Mitrow, G., Martin, S.L., Smith, T.W., and Macklin, J.A. (2013). "Barcoding of Quarantine and Invasive Species in Canada: Invasive Plants. Co-operation project between the Canadian Food Inspection Agency – CFIA and AAFC (GRDI - Genomics Research and Development).", Plant Genome Evolution Meeting 2013, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, September 8-10, 2013. (Abstract)

    2013 - View publication details

  2. Beckie, H.J., Blackshaw, R.E., Low, R., Hall, L.M., Sauder, C.A., Martin, S., Brandt, R.N., Shirriff, S.W. (2013). Glyphosate- and acetolactate synthase inhibitor-resistant kochia (Kochia scoparia) in Western Canada. Weed Science, [online] 61(2), 310-318.

    2013 - View publication details

  3. Warwick, S.I., Martin, S.L. (2013). Gene flow from transgenic oilseed Brassica juncea (L.) Czern. into weedy Sinapis arvensis L. (wild mustard). Plant Breeding, [online] 132(6), 688-693.

    2013 - View publication details

  4. Martin, S.L., Cakmak, S., Hebbern, C.A., Avramescu, M.-L., and Tremblay, N. (2011). "Climate change and future temperature-related mortality in 15 Canadian cities.", International Journal of Biometeorology, 56(4), pp. 605-619. doi : 10.1007/s00484-011-0449-y

    2012 - View publication details

  5. Martin, S.L. and Husband, B.C. (2009). "Influence of phylogeny and ploidy on species ranges of North American angiosperms.", Journal of Ecology, 97(5), pp. 913-922. doi : 10.1111/j.1365-2745.2009.01543.x

    2009 - View publication details

  6. Husband, B.C., Ozimec, B., Martin, S.L., and Pollock, L. (2008). "Mating Consequences of Polyploid Evolution in Flowering Plants: Current Trends and Insights from Synthetic Polyploids.", International Journal of Plant Sciences, 169(1), pp. 195-206. doi : 10.1086/523367

    2008 - View publication details

  7. Jesson, L.K., Kang, J., Martin, S.L., (Martin S.L., nee Wagner), Barrett, S.C.H., and Dengler, N.G. (2003). "The development of enatiostyly.", American Journal of Botany, 90(2), pp. 183-195.

    2003 - View publication details

Research facility

960 Carling Avenue
Ottawa, ON K1A 0C6


Carleton University – Adjunct Professor

Canadian Weed Science Society