Dr Katrin Besser


Contact Details:

Dr Katrin Besser
Department of Biology
University of York
YO10 5DD


(01904) 320000 Extn: 8787 (Note: Some may use a mobile contact).


Research Group:
McQueen Mason Group


My current research focuses on enzyme discovery and characterisation for the realisation of efficient liquid biofuel production from plant biomass. My general research interest is based on plant biology and more specifically evolved around plant secondary metabolism and interactions of plants with microbes or the environment. All research areas are linked to my interest in sustainable developments of industry, agriculture and society through the utilisation of biorenewables and biorefining or exploitation of natural phenomena. I gained extensive knowledge of molecular biology, transcriptomics, functional genomics and proteomics while I enjoy working in interdisciplinary projects.


2019 - present Senior Postdoctoral Research Associate, CNAP, Dept. of Biology, University of York
(BBSRC - Harnessing invertebrate wood digestion systems)

2019 Postdoctoral Research Associate, Dept. of Biology, University of York
(Newton link fund - Improving rice tolerance to acidic soils)

2014 - 2019 Senior Postdoctoral Research Associate, CNAP, Dept. of Biology, University of York
(sLOLA - Learning from marine woodborers: enzymes and mechanisms of lignocellulose digestion)

2009 - 2014 Postdoctoral Research Associate, CNAP, Department of Biology, University of York
(BSBEC - Marine woodborer enzyme discovery)

2006 - 2009 Postdoctoral Research Associate, CNAP, Department of Biology, University of York
(Artemisia Research Project)

2003 - 2006 Postdoctoral Research Associate, CNAP, Department of Biology, University of York
(Noble Laboratory - Tomato trichome functional genomics)

2001 - 2003 Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Biology, University of York
(EU Framework programme 6 Medicago genetics - Mycorrhiza)

2001 PhD, Molecular Biology/Plant Pathology, University of Giessen, Germany

1996 Diplom Biology (equivalent to MSc), University of Giessen, Germany

Selected publications

Besser, K., Malyon, G.P., Eborall, W.S., Paro da Cunha, G., Filgueiras, G.J., Dowle, A., Cruz Garcia, L., Page, S.J., Dupree, R., Kern, M., Gomez, L.D., Li, Y., Elias, L., Sabbadin, F., Mohamad, S.E., Pesante, G., Steele-King, C., Ribeiro de Azevedo, E., Polikarpov, I., Dupree, P., Cragg, S.M., Bruce, N.C., McQueen-Mason, S.J. (2018) Hemocyanin facilitates lignocellulose digestion by wood-boring marine crustaceans. Nature communications, 9(1), 5125.

Sabbadin, F., Pesante, G., Elias, L., Besser, K., Li, Y., Steele-King, C., Stark, M., Rathbone, D.A., Dowle, A.A., Bates, R., Shipway, J.R., Cragg, S.M., Bruce, N.C., McQueen-Mason, S.J. (2018) Uncovering the molecular mechanisms of lignocellulose digestion in shipworms. Biotechnology for biofuels, 11(1), 59.

Sabbadin, F., Hemsworth, G. R., Ciano, L., Henrissat, B., Dupree, P., Tryfona, T., Marques, R.D.S., Sweeney, S.T., Besser, K., Elias, L., Pesante, G., Li, Y., Dowle, A.A., Bates, R., Gomez, L.D., Simister, R., Davies, G.J., Walton, P.H., Bruce, N.C., McQueen-Mason, S.J. (2018). An ancient family of lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases with roles in arthropod development and biomass digestion. Nature communications, 9(1), 756.

Kern M, McGeehan JE, Streeter SD, Martin RN, Besser K, Elias L, Eborall W, Malyon GP, Payne CM, Himmel ME, Schnorr K, Beckham GT, Cragg SM, Bruce NC, McQueen-Mason SJ (2013) Structural characterization of a unique marine animal family 7 cellobiohydrolase suggests a mechanism of cellulase salt tolerance. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 110 (25): 10189-94.

Graham I.A., Besser K., Blumer S., Branigan C.A., Czechowski T., Elias L., Guterman I., Harvey D., Isaac P.G., Khan A.M., Larson T.R., Li Y., Pawson T., Penfield T., Rae A.M., Rathbone D.A., Reid S., Ross J., Smallwood M.F., Segura V., Townsend T., Vyas D., Winzer T., Bowles D. (2010) The Genetic Map of Artemisia annua L. Identifies Loci Affecting Yield of the Antimalarial Drug Artemisinin. Science, Vol. 327. no. 5963, pp. 328-331.

Besser K., Harper A., Welsby N., Schauvinhold I., Slocombe S., Li Y., Dixon R.A., and Broun P. (2009) Divergent regulation of terpenoid metabolism in the trichomes of wild and cultivated tomato species. Plant Phys 149, 499-514.

Besser K., Jarosch B., Langen G. & Kogel K.H. (2000) Expression analysis of genes induced in barley after chemical activation reveals distinct disease resistance pathways. Mol Plant Pathol 1(5), 277-286.

Hause B., Voeroes K., Kogel K.H., Besser K. & Wasternack C. (1999) A jasmonate-responsive lipoxygenase of barley leaves is induced by plant activators but not by pathogens. Plant Phys. 154, 459-462.

Besser K., Fangmeier A., Neubacher H., Steinhauer B., Jaeger H.-J. & Schloesser E. (1998) Free radicals, troposheric ozone and phytopathogenic fungi: Effects and defense in oats (Avena sativa L.). Berichte aus der Agrarwissenschaft. Antioxidants in higher plants: Biosynthesis, characteristics, actions and specific functions in stress defence. Shaker Verlag, Aachen (Noga G. & Schmitz M., Hrsg.), 156-164.

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