Professor Philip James Harris

Research | Current

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

  • 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.

Postgraduate supervision

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

Areas of expertise

Plant Molecular Science

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • van der Kamp, J. W., & Harris, P. J. (2018). Editorial for the Special Issue "Dietary Fibre: New Insights on Biochemistry and Health Benefits". International journal of molecular sciences, 19 (11).10.3390/ijms19113556
  • Fahey, L. M., Nieuwoudt, M. K., & Harris, P. J. (2018). Using near infrared spectroscopy to predict the lignin content and monosaccharide compositions of Pinus radiata wood cell walls. International journal of biological macromolecules, 113, 507-514. 10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2018.02.105
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Michel Nieuwoudt
  • Karlen, S. D., Free, H. C. A., Padmakshan, D., Smith, B. G., Ralph, J., & Harris, P. J. (2018). Commelinid Monocotyledon Lignins Are Acylated by p-Coumarate. Plant physiology, 177 (2), 513-521. 10.1104/pp.18.00298
  • Zhang, M., Smith, B. G., McArdle, B. H., Chavan, R. R., James, B. J., & Harris, P. J. (2018). Dimensional Changes of Tracheids during Drying of Radiata Pine (Pinus radiata D. Don) Compression Woods: A Study Using Variable-Pressure Scanning Electron Microscopy (VP-SEM). Plants (Basel, Switzerland), 7 (1).10.3390/plants7010014
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Brian McArdle, Ramesh Chavan, Bryony James
  • Fahey, L. M., Nieuwoudt, M. K., & Harris, P. J. (2017). Predicting the cell-wall compositions of Pinus radiata (radiata pine) wood using ATR and transmission FTIR spectroscopies. Cellulose, 24 (12), 5275-5293. 10.1007/s10570-017-1506-4
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Michel Nieuwoudt
  • Karlen, S. D., Smith, R. A., Kim, H., Padmakshan, D., Bartuce, A., Mobley, J. K., ... Ralph, J. (2017). Highly decorated lignins in leaf tissues of the Canary Island date palm Phoenix canariensis. Plant Physiology, 175 (3), 1058-1067. 10.1104/pp.17.01172
  • Zhang, M., Lapierre, C., Nouxman, N. L., Nieuwoudt, M. K., Smith, B. G., Chavan, R. R., ... Harris, P. (2017). Location and characterization of lignin in tracheid cell walls of radiata pine (Pinus radiata D. Don) compression woods. Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, 118, 187-198. 10.1016/j.plaphy.2017.06.012
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Ramesh Chavan, Michel Nieuwoudt, Brian McArdle
  • Chen, D., Harris, P. J., Sims, I. M., Zujovic, Z., & Melton, L. D. (2017). Polysaccharide compositions of collenchyma cell walls from celery (Apium graveolens L.) petioles. BMC Plant Biology, 1710.1186/s12870-017-1046-y
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Laurence Melton, Zoran Zujovic


Contact details

Primary office location

COMMERCE A - Bldg 114
Level 1, Room 122
New Zealand

Web links