Elizabeth Pilon-Smits Professor

Office: Biology 446

Phone: (970) 491-4991

Website: https://wp.natsci.colostate.edu/pilonsmitslab


  • Ph.D., Utrecht University, The Netherlands


In the Pilon-Smits lab we do multidisciplinary research that ranges from cells to whole plants to ecosystems. An important common denominator is selenium (Se): an essential element with anticarcinogenic and antiviral properties, but also a toxin and environmental pollutant. We study plant Se tolerance and accumulation using genetic/genomic tools and biotechnology and biochemistry. At the same time, we are very interested in ecological and evolutionary aspects of Se hyperaccumulation: the capacity of certain species to accumulate Se up to 1% of dry weight. Our findings indicate that Se hyperaccumulation has evolved as a protection from biotic stresses. A better understanding of plant Se metabolism and hyperaccumulation may ultimately lead to the development of pathogen- and pest-resistant, anticarcinogenic, Se-fortified crops, and plants with superior properties for the phytoremediation of Se-polluted soils and waters. Plant species we use in our research are the hyperaccumulator Stanleya pinnata, non-hyperaccumulator relatives Stanleya elata, Brassica juncea and Arabidopsis thaliana, and, recently, Cannabis sativa (hemp).


Effects of Selenium Hyperaccumulators on Soil Se Distribution and Vegetation Properties.Jason Jason Bixler Reynolds, Elizabeth AH Pilon-Smits American Journal of Botany.
Distribution and chemical form of selenium in Neptunia amplexicaulis from Central Queensland, Australia. Elizabeth AHPilon-Smits Metallomics.
Getting to the root of selenium hyperaccumulation – Localization and speciation of root selenium and its effects on nematodesChristine N. Prins, Laura Jean Hantzis, J. Valdez Barillas, Jennifer Jocarole Cappa, S. Fakra, C. M. de Tomasel, Diana H. Wall, E. A. H. Pilon-Smits Soil Systems, 47, 2019.
On the Ecology of Selenium Accumulation in PlantsPilon-Smits, Elizabeth A. H. PLANTS-BASEL, 7, 2019.
Selenium Biofortification Differentially Affects Sulfur Metabolism and Accumulation of Phytochemicals in Two Rocket Species (Eruca Sativa Mill. and Diplotaxis Tenuifolia) Grown in HydroponicsStefano Dall'Acqua, Andrea Ertani, Elizabeth A. Pilon-Smits, Marta Fabrega-Prats, Michela Schiavon PLANTS-BASEL, 3, 2019.
Understanding selenium metabolism in plants and its role as a beneficial elementReshu Chauhan, Surabhi Awasthi, Sudhakar Srivastava, Sanjay Dwivedi, Pilon-Smits, Elizabeth A. H., Om P. Dhankher, Rudra D. Tripathi CRITICAL REVIEWS IN ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, 21, 2019.
Identification and physiological comparison of plant species that show positive or negative co-occurrence with selenium hyperaccumulators. Jason Jason Bixler Reynolds, Elizabeth AH Pilon-Smits Metallomics, 2019.
Exploring the Potential of Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) for Selenium Biofortification and Phytoremediation.Elizabeth AHPilon-Smits Environmental Science and Technology.
Selenium tolerance, accumulation, localization and speciation in a Cardamine hyperaccumulator and a non-hyperaccumulator. Elizabeth AHPilon-Smits Science of the Total Environment.
Selenium Accumulation, Speciation and Localization in Brazil Nuts (Bertholletia excelsa).Elizabeth AHPilon-Smits Plants, 8, 2019.