Welcome to the Denby Lab. We are interested in plant disease resistance and using systems and synthetic biology approaches to unravel how plants respond to pathogen infection, and the regulatory networks underlying the defence response. We also use systems biology and genomic/transcriptomics to enhance breeding of disease resistance (and other key traits) in crops – particularly vegetable crops.

IMG_0577Lab members have biological and/or computational backgrounds and work together to solve key questions on how plants respond to changing environmental conditions, and how we can breed or engineer plants with enhanced tolerance to environmental stress and disease resistance.

We are located at the University of York in the Department of Biology within the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP). Katherine is also Academic Director of the N8 AgriFood programme. This exciting multidisciplinary research programme across the N8 universities is working to transform food security research in the UK and deliver sustainable, healthy food supply nationally and internationally.

New clipart word, New word Transparent FREE for download ...Come and join us! We are currently recruiting for two PhD positions. See below for details….


  • Firstly, a fully-funded iCASE project to work on genetic improvement of amaranths (climate-resilient smallholder crops) – genotying and phenotyping a MAGIC population. Collaboration with LettUs Grow

More details and to apply, see here. Deadline Sunday 10th January 2021


  • Second project is for a BBSRC DTP PhD studentship to improve analysis of Oxford Nanopore Technology (ONT) sequencing data, and apply methods such as machine learning to increase the efficiency of ONT’s real-time selective sequencing adapting it for large genome crops. These new methods will be used to improve an Amaranthus cruentus genome annotation and drive characterisation and use of an Amaranth diversity collection.

See more details and how to apply here. Deadline for PhD applications is 10th Jan 2021.


  • We are helping organise the 2nd International Plant Systems Biology conference which is supported by EMBO and will be held in Venice 21st – 25th Sept 2020. NOW POSTPONED until April 2021 – will launch website and details later this yearFlyer slide iPSB2020.001
  • We are always interested in hearing from graduates who are self-funded and wish to pursue a PhD.  Please also see Join Us for details of projects in my lab and funding opportunities.

Contact details

Prof. Katherine Denby, Department of Biology, University of York, Wentworth Way, York YO10 5DD, UK.

email: katherine.denby (at) york.ac.uk

+44 (0)1904 328760