World-renowned plant scientist to speak in Lincoln

Cathie Martin

March 31, 2016

Lincoln, Neb. — The University of Nebraska–Lincoln is hosting Cathie Martin, world-renowned expert in plant metabolic biochemistry and engineering, on April 7. Martin will speak about the work she has done to dramatically improve tomatoes for nutritive value and what plant metabolic engineering can do for human health.

The public is invited to attend the free talk, which will be at 4 p.m. at The Lincoln Marriott Cornhusker Hotel, 333 S. 13th St.

Martin is a group leader at the Johns Innes Centre and professor at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. Her interests span from fundamental to applied plant science. Her research focuses on the relationship between diet and health, and how crops can be fortified to improve diets and address the global challenge of escalating chronic disease. Martin is also involved in genetic screens to identify crops which lack toxins that can cause nutritional diseases, and has recently initiated a collaborative project with China to research on Chinese medicinal plants. 

 “We’re excited to welcome Dr. Martin to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln,” said Sally Mackenzie, Ralph and Alice Raikes Professor of Plant Science. “The information she will share points to the value of plant genetic engineering in preventative health care, which is a success story that needs to be told.”

Martin will speak about Phenylpropanoid metabolism, which is the best understood pathway of specialized metabolism in plants, because the core pathways are widely distributed. Foods, particularly fruits and vegetables, are important sources of polyphenol phytonutrients that promote health. The recognition of their importance in the diet is essential to meeting the objectives of food and nutritional security as defined by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

By engineering Phenylpropanoid metabolism, Martin has been able to enrich tomato fruit with different Phenylpropanoid compounds allowing scientists to compare the relative effects of different polyphenols on cardiovascular disease.

For more information about Martin’s talk, contact Sally Mackenzie at 402-472-6997 or

Sally Mackenzie
Ralph and Alice Raikes Professor of Plant Science