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Katherine Denby

Board member

Katherine Denby is Professor in the Biology Department at the University of York, and a member of the department’s Centre for Novel Agricultural Products. Katherine is also Academic Director of the N8 AgriFood Resilience Programme, a multidisciplinary program (across eight research-intensive UK universities) tackling sustainable food production, resilient supply chains, diet and consumer behavior to address the global food security challenge. She is an Associate Editor at the Journal of Experimental Biology and Guest Editor at The Plant Cell.

Katherine has a degree in Microbiology from the University of Bristol, and a PhD in Plant Science from the University of Oxford. She did postdoctoral research with Dr Rob Last (then at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Science at Cornell University, USA), before moving to South Africa. Katherine headed up a research group at the University of Cape Town investigating the regulation of plant defense before moving back to the UK in 2006 to Warwick HRI, which later became part of the School of Life Sciences at Warwick University, and also joined the Warwick Systems Biology Centre. Here, she began to use interdisciplinary approaches and apply these to breeding crops with enhanced disease resistance.

Katherine’s research focuses on plant disease resistance and using interdisciplinary approaches for faster crop improvement strategies. She has extensive experience in plant–pathogen interactions, and her work has identified multiple genes impacting on disease resistance, as well as a novel mechanistic link between the circadian clock and defense. Katherine’s group uses systems biology approaches to unravel how plants respond to pathogen infection (including the impact of the circadian clock), the regulatory networks underlying the defense response, and how these are manipulated by pathogens. As an associate member of the Warwick Integrative Synthetic Biology Centre she is investigating how to re-engineer the defense network to enhance disease resistance. Katherine has expertise in large-scale data analysis and integration, and interest in making such data easily discoverable and accessible for others.

Katherine is the Chair of the Plant Biology Section of the Society for Experimental Biology (SEB), and sits on the SEB Council. She also represents SEB at the Federation of European Societies of Plant Biology.


Lewis LA, Polanski K, Torres-Zabala M, et al. Transcriptional dynamics driving MAMP-triggered immunity and pathogen effector-mediated immunosuppression in Arabidopsis leaves following infection with Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000.
The Plant Cell 2015;27:3038–64.

Ingle RA, Stoker C, Stone W, et al. Jasmonate signalling drives time-of-day differences in susceptibility of Arabidopsis to the fungal pathogen Botrytis cinerea.
The Plant Journal 2015;84:937–48.

Windram O and Denby KJ. Modeling signaling networks underlying plant defence.
Current Opinion in Plant Biology 2015;27:165–71.

Windram O, Madhou P, McHattie S, et al. Arabidopsis defense against Botrytis cinerea: chronology and regulation deciphered by high-resolution temporal transcriptomic analysis.
The Plant Cell 2012;24:3530–57.

Yusuke Saijo

Board Member