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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.


Printed from /staff/kathryn-wright on 20/03/23 10:24:12 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.