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Postgraduates of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering Society

piotrowska marta




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0131 451 4748
WPA 1.02


Research Project

Antibiotic challenge in multidrug resistant strains of E. coli.

Previous Experience

11/2016–present: Post-doctoral Research Associate, Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh, UK I investigate resistance levels to antibiotics, in particular cephalosporins, in members of a novel E. coli multidrug-resistant, ESBL-producing clade.

08/2014–08/2016: Post-doctoral Research Fellow, Scotland’s Rural College, Edinburgh, UK I investigated the evolution of a damaging pathogen of Scots pines, Dothistroma septosporum, using population genetics and fungicide resistance approaches- part of the tree health initiative PROTREE [www.protree.net]. This project was funded jointly by a grant from BBSRC, Defra, ESRC, the Forestry Commission, NERC and the Scottish Government, under the Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Initiative.

10/2010-03/2015: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK PhD dissertation: ‘Evaluating the risk of fungicide resistance evolution to succinate dehydrogenase inhibitors in Ramularia collo-cygni.’


I started my research career in the field of plant pathology, focusing on the evolution of plant pathogens and their ability to adapt to changing environments, in particular fungicide applications. I adopted a variety of molecular and microbiological tools to study fungal biology, fungal evolution and fungal genomes. After successfully completing my first post-doc I was seeking a new challenge and I accepted the position of microbiologist in bacterial omics group. Since then I have been working on bacteria strains, E.coli, which are resistant to multiple classes of antibiotics (so called MDR- multidrug resistant). I develop, introduce and apply a variety of microbiological and molecular biology techniques to understand the response of E.coli to antibiotics, in particular cephalosporins, which are one of the last resort drugs in human medicine. I have been particularly interested in understanding how environmental and physiological conditions shape the response of E.coli to antibiotics. My research so far has resulted in several first authorship research publications in peer-review journals and increased knowledge about available management options for pathogenic infections in plants, animals and humans. During my projects I cooperated with a number of scientific institutions, stakeholders and professional bodies such as policy makers. My research also resulted in general press releases to journalists and to the public on exotic trees posing a threat to native Caledonian pinewoods.

Selected Publications

Harris S, Piotrowska MJ, Goldstone RJ, Qi R , Foster G, Dobrindt U, Madec J-Y, Valat C, Rao F & Smith DGE. 2018. Variant O89 O-antigen locus is common in E. coli with Group 1 Capsule loci and multidrug resistance. mBio, 9:2026.

Piotrowska MJ, Riddell C, Hoebe PN & Ennos RA. 2017. Planting exotic relatives has increased the threat posed by Dothistroma septosporum to the Caledonian pine populations of Scotland. Evolutionary Applications, doi: 10.1111/eva.12562.

Piotrowska MJ, Ennos RA, Riddell C and Hoebe PN. 2017. Fungicide sensitivity of Dothistroma septosporum isolates in the UK. Forest Pathology, 47, e12314.

Piotrowska MJ, Fountaine JM, Ennos RA, Kaczmarek M and Burnett FJ. 2017. Characterisation of Ramularia collo-cygni laboratory mutants resistant to Succinate Dehydrogenase Inhibitors. Pest Management Science, 73, 1187–1196.

Kaczmarek M, Piotrowska MJ, Fountaine JM, Gorniak K, McGrann GRD, Armstrong A, Wright KM, Newton AC and Havis ND. 2017. Infection strategy of Ramularia collo-cygni and development of Ramularia leaf spot on barley and alternative graminaceous hosts. Plant Pathology, 66, 45–55.

Piotrowska MJ, Ennos RA, Fountaine JM, Burnett FJ, Kaczmarek M and Hoebe PN. 2016. Development and use of microsatellite markers to study diversity, reproduction and population genetic structure of the cereal pathogen Ramularia collo-cygni. Fungal Genetics and Biology, 87, 64-71.

Havis ND, Brown JK, Clemente G, Frei P, Jedryczka M, Kaczmarek J, Kaczmarek M, Matusinsky P, McGrann GR, Pereyra S, Piotrowska MJ, Sghyer H, Tellier A and Hess M. 2015. Ramularia collo-cygni- an emerging pathogen of barley crops. Phytopathology, 105, 895-904.


Brown JKM, Havis ND, Fountaine JM, McGrann GRD, Corbitt MM, Kaczmarek M, Oxley SJP, Piotrowska MJ, Russell J & Thomas WTB. Control of ramularia leaf spot in a changing climate. Project Report No. 553, AHDB, 43 pages. March 2014. Contract value £200,000.

Conference papers published as proceedings Fountaine JM, Piotrowska MJ, Havis ND & Burnett FJ. 2014. Fungicide resistance in Ramularia collo-cygni, Proceedings Crop Protection in Northern Britain 2014, Dundee (UK). 25-26 February 2014. (Edited by TD Heilbronn). Page Bros, Norwich, 101-106.

Piotrowska MJ, Burnett FJ, Hoebe P, Ennos R & Fountaine JM. 2014. Current knowledge of the barley pathogen Ramularia collo-cygni, Modern Fungicides and Antifungal Compounds, Vol. VII. Proceedings of the 17th International Reinhardsbrunn Symposium, Reinhardsbrunn (Germany). 21-25 April 2013. (Edited by HW Dehne, HB Deising, B Fraaije, U Gisi, D Hermann, A Mehl, EC Oerke, PE Russell, G Stammler, KH Kuck, H Lyr). Deutsche Phytomedizinische Gesellschaft, Braunschweig, 201-206.

Piotrowska MJ, Havis ND, McKenzie A & Burnett FJ. 2017. Fungicide sensitivity monitoring in cereals, forest and minor crop pathogens in the UK. Modern Fungicides and Antifungal Compounds, Vol. VIII. Proceedings of the 18th International Reinhardsbrunn Symposium, Reinhardsbrunn (Germany). 24-28 April 2016. (Edited by HB Deising, B Fraaije, A Mehl, EC Oerke, H Sierotzki, G Stammler). Deutsche Phytomedizinische Gesellschaft, Braunschweig, Braunschweig, 135-140.

Funds and Awards

2018: Award of Researcher Links Grant for attendance of the workshop on prevention of microbial contamination of biomaterials for tissue regeneration and wound healing in Lancaster, UK

2016: Award of SRUC Trust Fund (Edinburgh) for attendance of 18th International Symposium on Modern Fungicides and Antifungal Compounds, Friedrichroda, Germany

2013: Award of British Society for Plant Pathology (BSPP) and SRUC Trusts Fund (Edinburgh) for attendance of 27th Fungal Genetics Conference, Asilomar, Pacific Grove, USA

2013: First prize for the poster presentation in the Population and Evolutionary Genetics section at 27th Fungal Genetics Conference at Asilomar, Pacific Grove, USA

2012,2011: First prize for oral and poster presentations at Biological Sciences and Product Safety Research Collaborations Review Event at Syngenta Research Centre, Jealott’s Hill, UK

Other Professional  Activities

Memberships: British Society for Plant Pathology-BSPP (2011-2016) Society for Applied Microbiology-SfAM (since Jan 2018)
Journal Reviewer: Biochemical Systematics and Ecology
University Engagement: Organising Committee of Postgraduates of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering Society (PoBBBs, Jan-Dec 2018)
Outreach: Science outreach session in Polish- Native Scientist (https://www.nativescientist.com/), Heriot-Watt University Farmers Open Days- plant protection products and cereals varieties, SRUC Tree Nursery Producers Engagement- Confor group, SRUC