Prof Cathie Martin

Project Leader
Metabolic Biology

Cathie’s research interests lie in using plant science for improving the human diet and health.  She is particularly interested in biofortification and using plant metabolic engineering to nutritionally enhance foods.

Much of Cathie’s work has been undertaken in tomatoes, enriching their nutrient content with, for example, resveratrol and anthocyanin.

Cathie collaborates to test these enhanced foods in human intervention studies and also undertakes studies into how these modified fruit  demonstrate improved shelf-life through Botrytis resistance.

  • Biofortification of fruit and vegetables for human health
  • Metabolic engineering to enhance phytonutrients such as anthocyanins and resveratrol
  • Improving the shelf-life of fruit and vegetables


The Cathie Martin lab has recently been co-ordinating research into the relationship between diet and health, and how crops can be fortified to improve diets and address the global challenge of escalating chronic disease. 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.

This has included research into plants which contain natural chemical compounds, some of which are seen as ‘natural medicines.’ We are particularly interested in phenolic compounds present in fruit and vegetables and also considered to be the main ‘active ingredients’ of many ‘super foods’ and ‘super drinks’.

Cathie's fundamental research has focused on cellular specialisation and she was the first to identify genes regulating cell shaping in plants.

Cathie is particularly interested in cellular specialization in flowers (colour and cell shape) and how these traits are used by different plants for pollinator attraction and has also been involved in developing genetic screens to identify crops which lack toxins that cause nutritional diseases such as konzo.

Professor Cathie Martin awarded Fellowship from the American Society of Plant Biologists

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New plant research solves a colourful mystery

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Scientists discover how chinese medicinal plant makes anti-cancer compound

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Scientists produce beneficial natural compounds in tomato – with potential for industrial scale up

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Recent Publications

Martin C., Li J. (2017)

Medicine is not health care, food is health care: plant metabolic engineering, diet and human health.

New Phytologist Epub ahead of print pEpub ahead of print

Publisher’s version: 10.1111/nph.14730

Zhao Q., Cui M. Y., Levsh O., Yang D., Liu J., Li J., Hill L., Yang L., Hu Y., Weng J. K., Chen X. Y., Martin C. (2017)

Two CYP82D Enzymes Function as Flavone Hydroxylases in the Biosynthesis of Root-Specific 4'-Deoxyflavones in Scutellaria baicalensis.

Molecular Plant In press corrected proof pIn press corrected proof

Publisher’s version: 10.1016/j.molp.2017.08.009

D'Amelia V., Aversano R., Ruggiero A., Batelli G., Appelhagen I., Dinacci C., Hill L., Martin C., Carputo D. (2017)

Subfunctionalization of duplicate MYB genes in Solanum commersonii generated the cold-induced ScAN2 and the anthocyanin regulator ScAN1.

Plant, Cell & Environment XX p111-123

Publisher’s version: 10.1111/pce.12966

Kallam K., Appelhagen I., Luo J., Albert N., Zhang H., Deroles S., Hill L., Findlay K., Andersen Ø. M., Davies K., Martin C. (2017)

Aromatic Decoration Determines the Formation of Anthocyanic Vacuolar Inclusions.

Current Biology Curr Biol. 2017 Mar 8. pii: S0960-9822(17)30164-1. ppii: S0960-9822(17)30164-1.

Publisher’s version: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.02.027

Butelli E., Garcia-Lor A., Licciardello C., Las Casas G., Hill L., Recupero G. R., Keremane M. L., Ramadugu C., Krueger R., Xu Q., Deng X., Fanciullino A. L., Froelicher Y., Navarro L., Martin C. (2017)

Changes in Anthocyanin Production during Domestication of Citrus.

Plant Physiology 173 p2225-2242

Publisher’s version: 10.1104/pp.16.01701

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BBSRC Most Promising Innovator (with Eugenio Butelli), 2014

Member of the Order of the British Empire, 2013

Fellowship from the American Assciation for the Advancement of Science, 2012


For media enquiries, contact the John Innes Centre communications team 01603 450962 or email

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