Professor Philip Harris, Professor



Plant Molecular Science

Phone: 09-3737599 x88366
Rm 315A

Plant Cell Walls Laboratory

Research Interests

My research interests center on the study of plant cell walls. These structures play a dynamic and central role in plant growth and development, and are important in many aspects of agriculture, horticulture, forestry, food science, and medicine. For example, plant cell walls are the major component of wood and are the "dietary fibre" of human foods. The cell walls of forage plants are also the main energy source for ruminant animals, and thus profoundly influence the production of dairy products, sheep meat, beef, and wool.

Current research includes the following:

  • Evolution of cell-wall polysaccharides and cell-wall phenolic components in monocotyledons, eudicotyledons, gymnosperms, ferns and bryophytes
  • Cell walls of wood in relation to wood quality
  • The biosynthesis of cell-wall polysaccharides, especially in gymnosperms
  • Cell walls (dietary fibre) in food plants.
  • Cell walls (fibre) in forages and ruminant nutrition

For these studies, we use a wide variety of modern techniques, including chemical and biochemical techniques as well as immunochemistry.

Projects suitable for postgraduate students are always available. Contact Professor Philip Harris for details.

Selected Recent Publications

Harris P. J., Ferguson LR (2014). Wheat and rice dietary fiber in colorectal cancer prevention and the maintenance of health. In: Wheat and rice in disease prevention and health: benefits, risks, and mechanisms of whole grains in health promotion. Eds Watson RR, Preedy V, Zibadi S. Academic Press, Amsterdam. (In Press).

Harris P. J., Altaner CM (Eds) (2013). Workshop on commercial application of IR spectroscopies to solid wood. Wood Technology Research Centre, University of Canterbury, Christchurch. 64 pp. ISBN 978-0-473-26662-2.

Brennan M, McLean JP, Klingberg K, Altaner C, Harris, P. J. (2013). Pyrolysis gas-chromatography mass-spectrometry (Py-GC/MS) to identify compression wood in Pinus radiata saplings . Holzforschung DOI 10.1515/hf-2013-0110.

Newman RH, Hill SJ, Harris, P. J. (2013). Wide-angle X-ray scattering and solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance data combined to test models for cellulose microfibrils in mung bean cell walls. Plant Physiology 163, 1558-1567.

Brennan, M., McLean, J. P., Altaner, C., Ralph, J., Harris, P. J. (2012). Cellulose microfibril angles and cell-wall polymers in different wood types of Pinus radiata. Cellulose In Press.

Hsieh, Y. S. Y., Harris, P. J. (2012). Structures of xyloglucans in primary cell walls of gymnosperms, monilophytes (ferns sensu lato) and lycophytes. Phytochemistry In Press.

Ferguson, L. R., Zhu, S., Han, D. Y., Harris, P. J. (2012). Inhibition or enhancement by four Pacific Island food plants against cancers induced by 2 amino–3-methylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoline in male Fischer 344 rats. Nutrition and Cancer 64, 218–227.

Ferguson, L. R., Harris, P. J., Kestell, P., Zhu, S., Munday, R., Munday, C. M. (2011). Comparative effects in rats of intact wheat bran and two wheat bran fractions on the disposition of the mutagen 2-amino-3-methylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoline. Mutation Research/Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis 716, 59- 65.

Bootten, T. J., Joblin, K. N., McArdle, B. H., Harris, P. J. (2011). Degradation of lignified secondary cell walls of lucerne (Medicago sativa L.) by rumen fungi growing in methanogenic co-culture. Journal of Applied Microbiology 111 1086-1096.

Bootten, T. J., Harris, P. J., Melton, L. D., Newman, R. H. (2011). Using solid-state 13C NMR spectroscopy to study the molecular organisation of primary plant cell walls. In: Popper, Z. A. (Ed.), The Plant Cell Wall: Methods and Protocols. Humana Press, New York, pp. 179-196.

Brennan, M., Harris, P. J. (2011). Distribution of fucosylated xyloglucans among the walls of different cell types in monocotyledons determined by immunofluorescence microscopy. Molecular Plant 4, 144-156.

M Brennan and P J Harris (2010). Distribution of Fucosylated Xyloglucans among the Walls of Different Cell Types in Monocotyledons Determined by Immunofluorescence Microscopy. Molecular Plant (Advance Access) 1-13, 2010.

C M Altaner, E N Tokareva, M C Jarvis and P J Harris (2010). Distribution of (1→4)-β-galactans, arabinogalactan proteins, xylans and (1→3)-β-glucans in tracheid cell walls of softwoods.. Tree Physiology 30, 782-793, 2010.

P J Harris and G B Fincher (2009). Distribution, Fine Structure and Function of (1,3;1,4)-β-Glucans in the Grasses and Other Taxa . In: Bacic A, Fincher GB, Stone BA (eds) Chemistry, biochemistry, and biology of (1→3)-β-glucans and related polysaccharides. Academic Press, San Diego, USA, pp 621-654, 2009 .

P J Harris and B A Stone (2009). Evolutionary Aspects of (1,3)-β-Glucans and Related Polysaccharides. In: Bacic A, Fincher GB, Stone BA (eds) Chemistry, biochemistry, and biology of (1→3)-β-glucans and related polysaccharides. Academic Press, San Diego, USA, pp 655-662, 2009.

T J Bootten, P J Harris, L D Melton and R H Newman (2009). Solid-State 13C NMR Study of a Composite of Tobacco Xyloglucan and Gluconacetobacter xylinus Cellulose: Molecular Interactions between the Component Polysaccharides. Biomacromolecules, 10 (11), 2961-2967, 2009.

P J Harris (2009). Cell-wall Polysaccharides of Potatoes. In: Singh J, Kaur L (eds) Advances in Potato Chemistry and Technology. Academic Press, San Diego, 63-81, 2009.

R Schröder, L D Melton, P J Harris, B G Smith and U Schmitt (2009). Plant Cell Walls: Diversity and Approaches to Understanding their Function. New Zealand Jornal of Forestry Science 39, 113-114, 2009.

Y S Y Hsieh, M Paxton, C P Ade, P J Harris (2009). Structural Diversity, Functions and Biosynthesis of Xyloglucans in Angiosperm Cell Walls. New Zealand Journal of Forestry Science, 39 187-196, 2009.

Y S Y Hsieh and P J Harris (2009). Xylogucans of Monocotyledons Have Diverse Structures. Molecular Plant, 2 (5), 943-965, September 2009.