Professor Julie Morrissey

Director of Leicester Microbial Sciences and Infectious Disease Research Centre

School/Department: Genetics and Genome Biology Department of

Telephone: +44 (0)112 252 2272



"I graduated from University of Leicester with a BSc Biological Sciences degree and a Ph.D in Microbial Yeast Genetic. I moved to the University of Nottingham as a Research Fellow working with Professor Paul Williams on iron homeostasis in Staphylococcus aureus until returning to the University of Leicester as a lecturer in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology until 2014 when I moved to the Department of Genetics. I lead the Leicester Microbial Sciences and Infectious Diseases Research Centre which is a focus for all microbiology related interdisciplinary research in the university and the Respiratory and infectious Diseases clinical departments in NHS UHL Trust. "


"Pollution and antimicrobial resistance are two of the major global challenges currently faced (World Health Organisation). Our research involves the elucidation of how bacteria adapt to air pollution and metal stress including anthropogenic metal pollution of the environment and how this impacts host-pathogen interaction and drives antibiotic resistance. Specific projects include investigation of: • Host-pathogen interaction and role of Staphylococcus aureus Haemophilus influenzae Moraxella catarrhalis and Streptococcus pneumoniae in infectious disease e.g. pneumonia and COPD. • The role of bacteria in the detrimental health outcomes caused by exposure to air pollutants. • Environmental effects on host-microbial interactions and microbiomes in humans and insect pollinators. • Impact of anthropogenic metal pollution on bacterial survival in the environment and co-selection for antibiotic resistance. • The role of copper and other heavy metals in host-pathogen interaction "


Ramsheh et al. Lung microbiome composition and bronchial epithelial gene expression in patients with COPD vs healthy individuals: a bacterial 16S rRNA gene sequencing and host transcriptomic analysis. (2020) Lancet Microbe under review

Almebairik, N., Zamudio, R., Joshi, C., Ironside, C., Ralph, JD., Roberts, AP., Gould, IM., Morrissey, JA., Hijazi, K. Oggioni, MR. Genomic stability of composite SCCmec COMER-like and ACME genetic elements in Staphylococcus epidermidis correlates with rate of excision. Accepted January 2020 Frontiers in Microbiology.

Purves J, Thomas J, Riboldi GP, Zapotoczna M, Tarrant E, Andrew PW, Londoño A., Planet PJ, Geoghegan JA, Waldron KJ, Morrissey JA. A horizontally gene transferred copper resistance locus confers hyper-resistance to antibacterial copper toxicity and enables survival of community acquired methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus USA300 in macrophages. (2018) Environ Microbiol. doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.14088. 

Zapotoczna M., Pelicioli-Riboldi G., Moustafa AM, Dickson E., Narechania A., Morrissey J A., Planet PJ., Holden MTG., Waldron KJ., Geoghegan JA. Mobile genetic element-encoded hypertolerance to copper protects Staphylococcus aureus from killing by host phagocytes (2018) MBio. 2018 9(5). pii: e00550-18.

Glanville DG, Han L, Maule AF, Woodacre A, Thanki D, Abdullah IT, Morrissey JA, Clarke TB, Yesilkaya H, Silvaggi NR, Ulijasz AT. (2018). RitR is an archetype for a novel family of redox sensors in the streptococci that has evolved from two-component response regulators and is required for pneumococcal colonization. PLoS Pathog. 14(5):e1007052. 

Hussey S. J. K., Purves J., Allcock N., Fernandes V. E., Monks P. S., Ketley J. M., Andrew P. W., Morrissey J. A. Air pollution alters Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae biofilms, antibiotic tolerance, and colonisation. (2017) Environmental Microbiology 19:1868-1880.

Bayliss C, Morrissey JA, Borrow R. (2016) Lack of coverage or vaccine failure? A difficult question for monitoring of Bexsero®, the new meningococcal vaccine. The Lancet 387:531-532.

Richards RL, Haigh RD, Pascoe B, Sheppard SK, Price F, Jenkins D, Rajakumar K, Morrissey JA. (2015) Persistent Staphylococcus aureus isolates from two independent cases of bacteraemia display increased bacterial fitness and novel immune evasion phenotypes. Infect Immun. 83(8):3311-24. 

Purves, J, Blades, M, Arafat, Y, Malik, SA, Bayliss, CD, and Morrissey JA. (2012) Variation in the genomic locations and sequence conservation of STAR elements among staphylococcal species provides insight into DNA repeat evolution. BMC Genomics. 13:515.

Shafeeq, S, Yesilkaya, H, Kloosterman, T. G., Narayanan, G., Andrew, P. W., Kuipers, O. P., and Morrissey, J. A. (2011) The cop operon is required for copper homeostasis and contributes to virulence in Streptococcus pneumoniae. Molecular Microbiology 81:1255-1270.



I am willing to supervise students in the areas of the molecular mechanisms important for respiratory bacteria adaptation to air and metal pollution and how this impacts virulence and antibiotic resistance. Our projects involve a combination of molecular microbiology tissue culture advanced imaging transcriptomics clinical samples and interaction with the respiratory disease and infectious disease clinicians at the hospitals focussing on disease such as COPD and pneumonia.


I teach BSc Biological Sciences 1st & 3rd year microbiology and genetics MSc Molecular Genetics

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