I am a group leader at the John Innes Centre, the leading plant research institute in Europe and Professor at the University of East Anglia. My interests span from fundamental to applied plant science. My fundamental research has focused on cellular specialisation and I was the first to identify genes regulating cell shaping in plants. I am particularly interested in cellular specialization in flowers (colour and cell shape) and how these traits are used by different plants for pollinator attraction.
Recently I have been co-ordinating research into the relationship between diet and health and how crops can be fortified to improve diets. This work has involved linking leading clinical and epidemiological researchers with plant breeders and metabolic engineers to develop scientific understanding of how diet can help to maintain health, lead to healthy ageing and reduce the risk of chronic disease. I have also been involved in developing genetic screens to identify crops which lack toxins that cause nutritional diseases such as konzo.
I am Editor-in-Chief of The Plant Cell, through which I have been piloting new features in scientific publishing, including ‘Teaching Tools in Plant Biology’ and I am co-author of the undergraduate-level text book: Plant Biology published by Garland Science (2009).
Plants and microbes produce a wide spectrum of natural products, which give them their huge range of colours, flavours and scents. These chemicals are used to repel pests, diseases or competitors or to attract pollinators, but for humans they represent a potential source of new medicines, flavourings, antimicrobials or other useful compounds. A major area of study at the John Innes Centre is in understanding how and why plants and microbes make these natural products. With this knowledge, we are looking at ways of exploiting them to help maintain our health, to improve crops plants and to maintain a safe, nutritious food supply.
Professor Anne Osbourn leads a research group investigating the structure, function and evolution of natural products, in particular in crop and model plants.
Professor Cathie Martin's research background is in cellular specialisation; in particular how flower colour and shape is determined. More recently she has been investigating how plants can be improved by manipulating the natural products that they produce.
Landing lights for Bumblebees
Gardeners could help maintain bumblebee populations by growing plants with red flowers or flowers with stripes along the veins, according to field observations of the common snapdragon, Antirrhinum majus, at the John Innes Centre in the UK. Bees are important pollinators of crops as well as the plants in our gardens
Good things derived from colours in flowers and fruit
Cathie Martin, project leader at the JIC, talks about her 27 years in plant science research.
Click to view presentation (26 mins - opens in new window)
Showcase of Young Science – what do our young scientists do?
This public event was held in March 2010 at the Forum in Norwich to showcase some of the varied research being undertaken by young scientists at both the John Innes Centre and the Institute of Food Research. Cathie Martin and Katharina Bulling presented the talk "Being a purple tomato: a story of colour and health" (opens in new window)
Click to view presentation (33 mins - opens in new window)
Other talks from the event can be found at www.jic.ac.uk/corporate/friends/events/ShowcaseofYoungScience.html