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Ashleigh Holmes

Staff picture: Ashleigh Holmes
Cell and Molecular Sciences
Cell and Molecular Sciences
+44 (0)344 928 5428 (*)

The James Hutton Institute
Dundee DD2 5DA
Scotland UK


Ashleigh’s research interests are in microbial pathogenicity and attachment to the rhizosphere.  She has investigated the molecular mechanisms of Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7 attachment to plant tissues and changes in its gene expression during plant colonization.  Now, she is applying her experience to understanding the molecular mechanisms of Pectobacterium atroscepticum pathogenicity and colonisation on potato and other plant species.  She is also interested in the plant response to bacteria and if they can distinguish microbial friend from foe.

Current research interests

Current projects include RESAS supported research (2022-2027 Strategic Research Programme: JHI-A1-1 Epidemiology of Key Pests and Diseases; JHI-A1-2 Integrated Crop Protection) to inform on the epidemiology, and methods for the control of, potato blackleg caused by Pectobacterium atrosepticum in Scotland. 

Working in collaboration with industry, we are investigating the application of biocontrol (Innovate UK Farming Innovation Pathways project IUK10005717) and other soil amendments (RESAS JHI-D3-1 Healthy Soils For A Green Recovery) to investigate impacts to blackleg disease progression as well as neighbouring soil and rhizosphere microbial communities (microbiomes).


Past research

2016-2022: Scottish Government Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment (RAFE) Strategic Research Deliverables: Animal Disease Epidemiology; Disease Threats in the Environment; and Food Safety.

Dec 2018 - Nov 2020: PDRA on Innovate UK project: Targeted innovation in the seed potato industry to improve productivity and quality.

May 2016 – March 2018 PDRA on Innovate UK project:  Biocontrol of food-borne pathogens, Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica, on horticultural produce.

Oct 2011 – Sept 2014 PDRA on BBSRC funded project: Identification and characterisation of EHEC adherence factors that interact with plant tissue.


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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.