Dr Mary Ann Madsen

  • Research Technician (Molecular Biosciences)


Key Skills 

Grant Funded

Genetic and environmental manipulation of photosynthetic bacteria, development and characterisation of genetic parts for synthetic biology, transcriptomics. 


Mary Ann works on developing ‘green’ biotechnologies within the Research Institute of Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology.

Mary Ann did her PhD in the laboratory of Professor Anna Amtmann where she developed molecular tools to create light-driven cell factories using photosynthetic bacteria.

Now in her postdoctoral research, she collaborates with industry in using these tools to identify natural, high-value products and unravel their biosynthetic pathways.

Research interests

Research interests

Modern consumerism and the linear model of make-use-dispose is gradually being replaced by more sustainable approaches in order to make better use of our resources and protect our environment. The types of products available in stores and the way in which they are manufactured are essential to this transition. My work aims to address these two important challenges by:

  1. identifying natural, biodegradable products; and
  2. developing greener production systems.

My research has mainly focused on cyanobacteria, which are photosynthetic microorganisms that:

  1. are a treasure trove of natural products for diverse applications in food, energy, beauty and healthcare industries, to name a few;
  2. can be engineered to design bespoke products with novel properties; and
  3. use renewable resources (light, water, air) for sustainable manufacturing.

By using a combination of genetic, transcriptomic and environmental approaches, my work specifically aims to:

  1. develop molecular tools to precisely control gene expression;
  2. identify new products and the biosynthetic genes and pathways underpinning their synthesis; and
  3. engineer chassis organisms to generate light-driven cell factories.

Away from the bench, I manage a small team of cyanobacterial researchers within the university; contribute as a specialist editor to the GIST magazine in Glasgow; and promote knowledge exchange across the United Kingdom via the UK Cyanobacteria Research Network (UKCyanoNet).


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