Photo of Shelley Hepworth

Shelley Hepworth


Degrees:B.Sc. (Waterloo), Ph.D. (Toronto)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 4214
Office:Office: 315 Nesbitt Building
Lab: 323 Nesbitt Building
Website:Visit my lab website


The Hepworth lab studies plants. Plants contribute to our well-being in many different ways as a source of habitat, food, shelter, and medicine. Our research focuses on plant architecture traits that are important for crop yield.

The source of physical traits in a plant is the shoot apical meristem, a dome-like cluster of stem cells that drives upward growth of the stem and produces leaves, branches, and flowers according to the life cycle.  We study how this development is timed and organized at the level of genes and molecules. Application of this knowledge is used to optimize traits like branching architecture, abscission, and seed dispersal in crop plants.

We work in partnership with university and government researchers in Canada (e.g. University of Ottawa, National Research Council Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada) and other parts of the world (e.g. Institute Jean-Pierre Bourgin in France, Lanzhou University in China) and industry (e.g. Canopy Growth) in sharing students, ideas, and resources to improve the speed and efficiency of crop breeding.

In you are interested in plant biology, we’d love to hear from you. We have opportunities for students at all levels. Please contact me at For details about specific projects, you can also visit our website

Selected Publications

Crick*, L. Corrigan*, K. Belcram, M. Khan*, J. Dawson, B. Adroher, S. Li, S.R. Hepworth, and V. Pautot (2022). Floral organ abscission requires the combined activities of three TALE homeodomain transcription factors. Journal of Experimental Botany 73, 6150-6169.

Manes*, E. Brauer, S.R. Hepworth, and R. Subramaniam (2021). MAMP and DAMP signalling contributes resistance to Fusarium graminearum in Arabidopsis. Journal of Experimental Botany 72, 6628-6639.

H.-J. Yin, M. Li, M. Lv, S.R. Hepworth, D. Li, C. Ma, J. Li, and S.-M. Wang (2020) SAUR15 promotes lateral and adventitious root development via activating H+-ATPases and auxin biosynthesis. Plant Physiology 184, 837-851.

Wang*, B.C. Salasini*, M. Khan*, B. Devi*, M. Bush*, R. Subramaniam, and S.R. Hepworth. (2019) Clade I TGA bZIP transcription factors mediate BLADE-ON-PETIOLE dependent regulation of development. Plant Physiology 180, 937-951

J.L. Parsons*, S.L. Martin, T. James, G. Golenia, E.A. Boudko, and S.R. Hepworth. (2019) Polyploidization for the genetic improvement of Cannabis sativa. Frontiers in Plant Science 10, 476.1090.

Woerlen*, G. Allam*, A. Popescu*, L. Corrigan*, V. Pautot, and S.R. Hepworth. (2017) Repression of BLADE-ON-PETIOLE genes by KNOX homeodomain protein BREVIPEDICELLUS is essential for differentiation of secondary xylem in Arabidopsis roots. Planta 245, 1079-1090.

 S.R. Hepworth, and V. Pautot. (2015) Beyond the divide: boundaries for patterning and stem cell regulation in plants. Frontiers in Plant Science 6, 1052.2186.

Khan*, L. Ragni, P. Tabb*, B.C. Salasini*, S. Chatfield*, R. Datla, J. Lock*, X. Kuai, C. Després, M. Proveniers, H. Morin, J.P. Rulliere, S. Citerne, S.R. Hepworth, and V. Pautot. (2015) Repression of lateral organ boundary genes by PENNYWISE and POUND-FOOLISH is essential for meristem maintenance and flowering in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Physiology 169, 2166-2186.

Murmu*, M.J. Bush*, C. DeLong, S. Li, M. Xu*, M. Khan*, C. Malcolmson*, P.R. Fobert, S. Zachgo, and S.R. Hepworth. (2010) Arabidopsis bZIP transcription factors TGA9 and TGA10 interact with floral glutaredoxins ROXY1 and ROXY2 and are redundantly required for anther development. Plant Physiology 154, 1492-1504

S.R. Hepworth, Y. Zhang, X. Li, S. McKim, and G.W. Haughn. (2005) BLADE-ON-PETIOLE-dependent signaling controls leaf and floral patterning in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell 17, 1-15.