Ron WEB image 2017
Assistant Professor
MSc, PhD (Dalhousie)

Office: Evaristus C213
Lab: Evaristus C215
(902) 457-6293

Research Interests

Genetic diversity in an endangered Nova Scotian plant Scirpus longii or Long’s bulrush. Scirpus longii is a member of the Atlantic Coastal Plain Flora (ACPF), a diverse but distinctive group of plants occurring mostly in freshwater wetlands and waterways close to salt water from Newfoundland to the Gulf of Mexico. In Nova Scotia, Scirpus longii is hybridizing with the common wooly bulrush Scirpus cyperinus. Whole genome-based nucleotide-sequencing is being applied to DNAs from specimens of each species and to putative hybrids to assess genetic diversity within Scirpus longii and interbreeding with Scirpus cyperinus. These same techniques are being used to assess the genetic diversity of Scirpus longii throughout its range from Nova Scotia to New Jersey. This information is being combined with predictions of how anthropogenic climate change will alter habitat to assess the prospects for the survival and migration of Scirpus longii and other members of the ACPF.


Theoretical evolutionary genetics concerning sex. The nature of genetic variation and sexual reproduction is being considered; particularly (1) whether there is adaptive value in maintaining more genetic variation than is unavoidable and (2) whether sexual reproduction, with all its costs relative to asexual reproduction, is adaptive for organisms or the product of parasitism on the part of the genes that cause sex. These two topics are related insofar as the generation of genetic variation is often put forward as the benefit of sexual reproduction that outweighs its cost.

Selected Publications

MacKay, R.M., Reid, S., William, R. and Hill, N.M. (2010). Genetic evidence of introgressive invasion of the globally imperilled Scirpus longii by the weedy Scirpus cyperinus (Cyperaceae) in Nova Scotia. Rhodora 112: 34-57.

MacKay, R.M. and Gallant, J.W. (2002). The β-tubulin gene of Porphyra purpurea (Rhodophyta). Journal of Phycology 38: 1020-1023.

Chew, J.S.K., Strongman, D.B. and MacKay, R.M. (1998). Comparisons of twenty isolates of the entomopathogen Paecilomyces farinosus by analysis of RAPD markers. Mycological Research 102: 1254-1258.

Patwary, M.U., Sensen, C.W., MacKay, R.M. and van der Meer, J.P. (1998). Nucleotide sequences of small subunit and internal transcribed spacer regions of nuclear rRNA genes support the autonomy of some genera of the Gelidiales (Rhodophyta). Journal of Phycology 34: 299 305.

Chew, J.S.K., Strongman, D.B. and MacKay, R.M. (1997). RFLP analysis of rRNA intergenic spacer regions of twenty-three isolates of the entomopathogen, Paecilomyces farinosus. Canadian Journal of Botany 75: 2038 2045.

Bird, C.J., Sosa, P.A. and MacKay, R.M. (1994). Molecular evidence confirms the relationship of Petrocelis in the western Atlantic to Mastocarpus stellatus (Rhodophyta, Petrocelidaceae). Phycologia 33: 134-137.

Strongman, D.B. and MacKay, R.M. (1993). Discrimination between Hirsutella longicolla var. longicolla and Hirsutella longicolla var. cornuta using Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA fingerprinting. Mycologia 85: 65-70.

Patwary, M.U., MacKay, R.M. and van der Meer, J.P. (1993). Revealing genetic markers in Gelidium vagum (Rhodophyta) through the Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA (RAPD) technique. Journal of Phycology 29: 216-222.