Virginia Walker's Lab

We work on

molecular genetics / environmental microbiology / stress tolerance / low temperature resistance / astrobiology / with model systems from microbes to fish to insects to plants to mammals and beyond!

Walker lab members

Our lab: left to right, Erin, Collin, Virginia, Pranab, Aaron, and Kristy (and to the right of Kristy we have goldenrod, which have antifreeze proteins so they can be part of the lab too)

Our research

Our research interests concern stress genes and the molecular basis of resistance. This is a central question for scientific goals as diverse as predicting the impact of nanoparticle-containing food on our gut microbiota, the consequence of climate change on Arctic organisms, the impact of microgravity, or the production of ice-binding proteins in environmentally-stressed overwintering plants, insects, fish or microbes.

Recent publications

2016-22 portion of the current NSERC granting period

(*of course, students and other trainees are marked by stars because they are!)

  1. Forbes J, Bissoyi A, Eickhoff L, Reicher N, Hansen T, Bon C, Walker VK, Koop T, Rudich Y, Braslavsky I and Davies PL (2022) Water-organizing motif continuity is critical for potent ice nucleation protein activity. Nature Communications in press

  2. *Juurakko, CL, diCenzo, GC and Walker, VK (2022) Brachypodium antifreeze protein gene products inhibit ice recrystallisation, attenuate ice nucleation, and reduce immune response. Plants 11: 1475. See publication

  3. Tomalty, HE, Graham, LA, Walker VK, Davies PL (2022) Chill injury in human kidney tubule cells after subzero storage is not mitigated by antifreeze protein addition. See preprint

  4. Houde, M, Krümmel, EM, Mustonen, T….Walker, VK and Whiting, A. (2022) Contributions and perspectives of Indigenous Peoples to the study of mercury in the Arctic, Science of The Total Environment, 841:156566 See publication

  5. Duan Y, Grogan P, Walker VK, diCenzo GC (2022) Whole genome sequencing of mesorhizobia isolated from northern Canada. Canadian Journal of Microbiology in press See preprint

  6. *Juurakko CL, *Bredow M, diCenzo GC, and Walker VK (2022) Cold-inducible promoter-driven knockdown of Brachypodium antifreeze proteins confers freezing and phytopathogen susceptibility. Plant Direct, 6(9), e449. See publication


  1. *Juurakko, CL, diCenzo, GC, and Walker, VK (2021). Cold acclimation in Brachypodium is accompanied by changes in above-ground bacterial and fungal communities. Plants, 10(12), 2824. See publication

  2. *Juurakko, C, diCenzo, GC and Walker VK (2021) Cold acclimation and prospects for cold-resistant crops. Plant Stress 2, 100028 See publication

  3. *Rosenstein, AH and Walker, VK (2021) Fidelity of a bacterial DNA polymerase in microgravity, a model for human DNA health in space. Frontiers Cell and Developmental Biology. Nov 29;9:702849. See publication

  4. *Moniz K, Walker VK, Shah V (2021) Antibiotic resistance in mucosal bacteria from high Arctic migratory salmonids. Environ Microbiol Rep. See publication

  5. *Juurakko CL, *Bredow M, Nakayama T, Imai H., Kawamura Y, diCenzo GC, Uemura M and Walker VK (2021) The Brachypodium distachyon cold-acclimated plasma membrane proteome is primed for stress resistance. Genes, Genomes and Genetics (G3) 11(9):kab198 See publication

  6. Koch I, *Das P, *McPhedran BE, Casselman JM, *Moniz KL, van Coeverden de Groot P, Qitsualik J, Muir D, Schott S, Walker VK (2021) Correlation of mercury occurrence with age, elemental composition, and life history in sea-run food fish from the Canadian arctic archipelago’s lower Northwest Passage. Foods 10(11):2621. See publication

  7. Houde, M. et al. multiple authors including Walker VK (2021) What are Indigenous Peoples’ contributions to the study of mercury in the Arctic, and what are their perspectives on contaminant research and monitoring? Chapter 9, Indigenous Perspectives - AMAP Mercury Assessment See publication

  8. *McKnight MM, Grogan P and Walker VK (2021) Impact of long-term fertilizer and summer warming treatments on bulk soil and birch rhizosphere microbial communities in mesic Arctic tundra. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research, 53:1,196-211. See publication


  1. Walker VK, *Das P, Li P, Lougheed SC, *Moniz K, Schott S, Qitsualik J, Koch I. (2020) Identification of Arctic food fish species for anthropogenic contaminant testing using geography and genetics. Foods 9. See publication

  2. *Bredow M, *Tomalty HE, Graham LA, Gruneberg AK, *Middleton AJ, *Vanderbeld B, Davies PL and Walker VK. (2020) Isolation and characterization of ice-binding proteins from higher plants. Methods in Molecular Biology 2156: 303-332.

  3. *McKnight MM, Qu Z, Copeland JK, Guttman DS and Walker, VK (2020) A practical assessment of nano-phosphate on soybean (Glycine max) growth and microbiome establishment. Scientific Reports 10 (1), 1-17

  4. Schott S. Qitsualik J, van Coeverden de Groot P, Okpakok S, Chapman JM, Lougheed S and Walker VK (2020) Operationalizing knowledge coevolution: towards a sustainable fishery for Nunavummiut. Arctic Science 6:208-288 See publication

  5. *Element G, Engel K, Neufeld JD, Casselman JM, van Coeverden de Groot P and Walker VK (2020) Differences in intestinal microbial communities of two sympatric anadromous Arctic salmonids and the effects of migration and feeding. Arctic Science 7(3) See publication

  6. *Element G, Engel K, Neufeld JD, Casselman JM, van Coeverden de Groot P, Greer CW and Walker VK. (2020) Seasonal habitat drives intestinal microbiome composition in anadromous Arctic char Salvelinus alpinus. Environmental Microbiology. See publication

  7. Wu Y, Lougheed DR, Lougheed SC, *Moniz K, Walker VK and Colautti RI (2020) baRcodeR: An open‐source R package for sample labelling. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 11 (8), 980-985


  1. *Affleck JG and Walker VK. (2019) Drosophila as a model for developmental toxicology: using and extending the Drosophotoxicology model. Methods in Molecular Biology 1965: 139-153. See publication

  2. *Hamilton EF, *Element G, van Coeverden de Groot P, Engel K, Neufeld JD, Shah V and Walker VK. (2019) Anadromous Arctic char microbiomes: Bioprospecting in the high Arctic. Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology. 7:32. See publication


  1. *Tomalty, HE, Eves R, Graham, LA, Walker VK and Davies PL (2018) Supercooled renal graft preservation using hyperactive ice-binding proteins. Cryobiology 81, 233-234

  2. *Bredow M, *Tomalty HE, *Smith L and Walker VK (2018) Ice and anti-nucleating activities of an ice-binding protein from the annual grass, Brachypodium distachyon. Plant Cell Environ. 41(5):983-992. See publication

  3. Udegbunam LU, *DuQuesnay JR, Osorio L, Walker VK, and Beltran JG. (2018) Phase equilibria, kinetics and morphology of methane hydrate inhibited by antifreeze proteins: application of a novel 3-in-1 method. J. Chemical Thermodynamics 17:155-163. See publication


  1. Pontefract A, Zhu TF, Walker VK, Hepburn H, Lui C, Zuber MT, Ruvkun G, and Carr CE. (2017) Microbial diversity in a hypersaline sulfate lake: a terrestrial analog of ancient Mars. Frontiers in Microbiology 8:1819.

  2. *Bredow M, Walker VK (2017). Ice-binding proteins in plants. Frontiers in Plant Science. 8: 2153. See publication

  3. *Qadeer S, Khan MA, Ansari MS, Rakha BA, Ejaz R, Husna AU, Azam A, Ullah N, Walker VK, and Akhter S. (2017) Cryopreservation of Nili-Ravi buffalo bull sperm in cryodilutant supplemented with Lolium perenne protein preparations. CryoLetters 38:43-50.

  4. *Dudefoi W, *Moniz K, Allen-Vercoe E, Ropers, M-H, and Walker VK. (2017) Impact of food grade and nanoTiO2 particles on a human intestinal community. Food and Chemical Toxicology 106:242-249.

  5. *Bredow M, *Tomalty H, and Walker VK. (2017) Identification of plant ice-binding proteins through the assessment of ice-recrystallization inhibition activity and isolation using ice-affinity purification. Journal of Visual Experiments (123):e55302.

  6. *Tomalty, H, *Hamilton EF, Hamilton A, Kukal O, Allen T, and Walker VK. (2017) Kidney preservation at subzero temperatures using a novel storage solution and insect ice-binding proteins. CryoLetters 38:100-107.

  7. *Inglese C, Christiansen CT, Lamhonwah D, *Moniz K, *Montross S, Lamoureux S, Lafrenière M, Grogan P, and Walker VK. (2017) Examination of soil microbial communities after permafrost thaw subsequent to an active layer detachment in the High Arctic. Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research 49:455-472.


  1. *Bredow M, *Vanderbeld B, and Walker VK. (2016) Ice-binding proteins confer freezing tolerance in transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Biotechnology Journal 15:68-81. See publication

  2. Shah V, Luxton T, Walker VK, Brumfield T, Yost, J, Shah S, Wilkinson JE, and Kambhampati M. (2016) Fate and impact of zero-valent copper nanoparticles on geographically distinct soils. Science of the Total Environment 573:661-670.

  3. *Das P, *Saulnier E, Carlucci C, Allen-Vercoe E, Shah V, and Walker VK. (2016) Interactions between a broad-spectrum antibiotic and silver nanoparticles in a human gut ecosystem. Nanomedicine and Nanotechnology 7:408. See publication

  4. *Bredow M, *Vanderbeld B, and Walker VK. (2016) Knockdown of ice-binding proteins in Brachypodium distachyon demonstrates their role in freeze protection. PLoS ONE e-access: PONE-D-16-38249