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Kathryn Wright

Staff picture: Kathryn Wright
Cell and Molecular Sciences
Cell and Molecular Sciences
Honorary Associate
+44 (0)344 928 5428 (*)

The James Hutton Institute
Dundee DD2 5DA
Scotland UK


During my career at the Institute, much of my work involved the application of imaging and cell biology techniques to investigate the interactions between pathogens and plants.

Current research interests

The colonisation of plants by human pathogenic bacteria

E. coli bacteria on a basil cotyledon

In collaboration with Nicola Holden, I investigaged the colonisation of young plants marketted as micro-herbs or microgreens, by Escherichia coli O157:H7 Sakai. Our work showed that if seeds germinate in the presence of low numbers of bacteria the young plants, e.g. basil, become extensively colonised by bacteria, most being present on the surface of the leaf tissue, but others within the leaf interior. This highlights that micro-herbs represent a potential hazard of contamination by food-borne pathogens, and to mitigate the risk, they should be considered in the same manner as sprouted seeds.

3D image of E. coli within a N. benthamiana leafOnce inside a leaf of a susceptible species for example Nicotiana benthamiana, E. coli Sakai can form large colonies showing characteristics of biofilm formation including production of curli and extracellular DNA.


E. coli bacteria within a spinach leaf

In other species including spinach and lettuce, the bacteria can only be found in small numbers and do not appear to proliferate.  



I developed methods to study the colonisation of potato roots by Pectobacterium atrosepticum to identify the route of transfer to the developing plant and how this is influenced by free-living nematodes.

With colleagues I investigated the localisation of effectors secreted by potato cyst nematodes into their host.


Past research

  • Using an in vivo staining method I investigated susceptible and resistant interactions between the pathogen Rhynchosporium secalis and barley.Rhynchosporium growing on barley cultivar Atlas
  • With colleagues  I have investigated the role of TGB 1 movement protein in the movement of Potato mop top virus and the mechanism by which Tobacco mosaic virus- movement protein moves from its site of synthesis to the plasmodesmata.
  • Using the Arabidopsis root as a model system I also investigated the phloem mobility of fluorescent xenobiotics and examined the long distance movement of macromolecules with particular reference to their unloading from the phloem.


  • Wright, K.M.; MacKenzie, K.M. (2014) Probing protein targeting to plasmodesmata using fluorescence recovery after photo-bleaching., In: Heinlein, M. (ed.). Plasmodesmata, Methods in Molecular Biology. (Methods and Protocols, Volume 1217). Chapter 17, pp259-274.
  • Holden, N.; Pritchard, L.; Toth, I.K.; Wright, K.M. (2013) Mechanism of plant colonisation by human pathogenic enterobacteria: an emphasis on the roots and rhizosphere., In: de Bruijn, F. (ed.). Molecular Microbial Ecology of the Rhizosphere. Wiley Blackwell, Hoboken, New Jersey, Volume 2, Chapter 117, pp1217-1226.
  • Wright, K.M.; Oparka, K.J. (2006) The ER within plasmodesmata., In: Robinson, D.G. (ed.). The Plant Endoplasmic Reticulum. Springer Verlag, Heidelberg, pp279-308.
  • Oparka, K.J.; Viola, R.; Wright, K.M.; Prior, D.A.M. (1992) Sugar transport and metabolism in potato tubers., In: Farrar, J.F., Gordon, A.J. & Pollock, G.J. (eds.). Carbon Partitioning Within and Between Organisms. BIOS Scientific Publishers, Oxford, pp91-114.
  • Wright, K.M.; Oparka, K.J. (1991) Sugar uptake and metabolism in sink and source potato tubers., In: Bonnemain, J.L., Delrot, S., Lucas, W.J. & Dainty, J. (eds.). Recent Advances in Phloem Transport and Assimilate Compartmentation. Quest Edition, Presses Academique, Nantes, pp258-264.

  • Wright, K.M.; Wood, N.T.; MacKenzie, K.; Oparka, K.J. (2003) Studying plasmodesmatal targeting of TMV-MP using FRAP., Annual Report of the Scottish Crop Research Institute for 2002/2003, pp97.
  • Wright, K.M.; Roberts, A.G.; Martens, H.J.; Sauer, N.; Oparka, K.J. (2002) Phloem development and function probed with a companion-cell marker., Annual Report of the Scottish Crop Research Institute for 2001/2002, pp118-121.
  • Wright, K.M.; Santa, Cruz, S. (2000) Life at the edge - imaging the hypersensitive response induced by TMV., Annual Report of the Scottish Crop Research Institute for 1999/2000, pp136-139.
  • Wright, K.M.; Oparka, K.J. (1997) Predicting the phloem mobility of xenobiotics., Annual Report of the Scottish Crop Research Institute for 1996/97, pp112-116.
  • Wright, K.M.; Oparka, K.J.; Prior, D.A.M. (1994) Uptake and compartmentation of xenobiotics in plant cells., Annual Report of the Scottish Crop Research Institute for 1994, pp84-88.
  • Oparka, K.J.; Wright, K.M.; Prior, D.A.M. (1990) The sink to source transition in potato tubers., Annual Report of the Scottish Crop Research Institute for 1990, pp36-40.

  • Kaczmarek, M.; Fountaine, J.M.; Havis, N.D.; Wright, K.M.; Newton, A.C.; Read, N.D. (2011) Microscopic study of a dynamic relationship between filamentous fungus Ramularia collo-cygni and its host plant Hordeum vulgare., Fourth International Workshop on Barley Leaf Blights, West Park Centre, Dundee, 27-29 June 2011.
  • Thirugnanasambandam, A.; Whisson, S.C.; Wright, K.M.; Havis, N.D.; Atkins, S.D.; Newton, A.C. (2011) Investigations of the asymptomatic phase of Rynchosporium secalis and Ramularia collo-cygni infection using GFP expressing variants., Fourth International Workshop on Barley Leaf Blights, Dundee, 27-29 June 2011.
  • Wright, K.M.; Chapman, S.N.; Oparka, K.J. (2006) The effect of commonly used inhibitors on tobacco epidermal cell structure., Imaging Membrane Dynamics, Royal Holloway College, London, 14-17 September 2006.
  • Haupt, S.; Wright, K.M.; Cowan, G.H.; Boevink, P.; Gillespie, T.; Ziegler, A.; Roberts, A.G.; Chapman, S.N.; Oparka, K.J.; Torrance, L. (2005) Plant virus proteins traffic in the endomembrane system., Mini-Symposium on Improving the Plant Secretory System for Nutrition and Health, Grasmere, 23-26 May 2005.
  • Boevink, P.; Wright, K.M.; Chapman, S.N.; Oparka, K.J. (2005) Tools for protein tracking., Plant Sciences Seminar and Workshop; Applications for Fluorescence Microscopy, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, 11-15 April 2005.
  • Boevink, P.; Chapman, S.N.; Bell, K.; Jackson, K.; Wright, K.M.; Latijnhouwers, M.; Gillespie, T.; Oparka, K.J.; Roberts, A.G. (2005) Investigating protein location, motion and function in living plant cells., Biotechnology, Havana, Cuba, 27 November - 2 December 2005.
  • Boevink, P.; Wright, K.M.; Roberts, A.G.; Wood, N.; MacKenzie, K.; Oparka, K.J. (2005) Towards a new model for TMV movement., Plasmodesmata 2004, Monterey, California, USA, 17-21 August 2004.
  • Roberts, A.G.; Boevink, P.; Calcutt, J.; Chapman, S.N.; Wright, K.M.; Oparka, K.J. (2004) New fluorescent proteins light up plant intercellular communication., SEB Plant Frontiers - The Visible Cell Biosensors and Bioreceptors Session, Exeter 3-6 July 2004.
  • Wright, K.M.; Wood, N.T.; Roberts, A.G.; Boevink, P.; Gillespie, T.; MacKenzie, K.; Oparka, K.J. (2004) Plasmodesmal targeting of TMV movement protein utilises the ER/actin network., Plasmodesmata 2004, Monterey, California, USA, August 17-21 2004.
  • Wright, K.M. (2003) The function of Tobacco mosaic firus-movement protein investigated by FRAP., 31st Scottish Microscopy Group Symposium. Dundee, Scotland, 12 November 2003.
  • Wright, K.M.; Santa Cruz, S.; Oparka, K.J. (1999) Green fluorescent protein illuminates the hypersensitive response., Royal Microscopical Society 6th International Botanical Microscopy Meeting, University of St Andrews, 25-29 March 1999.
  • Oparka, K.J.; Wright, K.M.; Prior, D.A.M. (1989) Osmotic regulation of sucrose partitioning in potato tuber storage tissues., Proceedings of the 21st Colloquium of the International Potash Institute, Bern,19-21 June 1989, pp189-201.

Printed from /staff/kathryn-wright on 29/11/22 05:17:05 AM

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.