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 specialisation 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.

John Innes Centre wins funding for grass pea project in Sub-Saharan Africa

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Royal Society honour for distinguished John Innes Centre scientist

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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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Recent Publications

Soubeyrand E., Johnson T. S., Latimer S., Block A., Kim J., Colquhoun T. A., Butelli E., Martin C., Wilson M. A., Basset G. (2018)

The Peroxidative Cleavage of Kaempferol Contributes to the Biosynthesis of the Benzenoid Moiety of Ubiquinone in Plants.

Plant Cell

Publisher’s version: 10.1105/tpc.18.00688

Martin C. (2018)

A role for plant science in underpinning the objective of global nutritional security?

Annals of Botany 122 p541-553

Publisher’s version: 10.1093/aob/mcy118

Xu J. J., Fang X., Li C. Y., Zhao Q., Martin C., Chen X. Y., Yang L. (2018)

Characterization of Arabidopsis thaliana Hydroxyphenylpyruvate Reductases in the Tyrosine Conversion Pathway.

Frontiers in plant science 9 p1305

Publisher’s version: 10.3389/fpls.2018.01305

Galdon-Armero J., Fullana-Pericas M., Mulet P. A., Conesa M. A., Martin C., Galmes J. (2018)

The ratio of trichomes to stomata is associated with water use efficiency in tomato.

Plant Journal

Publisher’s version: 10.1111/tpj.14055

Martin C., Scarano A., Santino A., Chieppa M., Tomlinson M., Butelli E. (2018)

Food is about Healthcare; Medicine is about Sick-care. The importance of plants in our diets.


Publisher’s version: 10.1007%2Fs11627-018-9925-y.pdf

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Elected Fellow of the Royal Society, 2018

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;, or call 01603 450962 

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