Dr Gail Preston

Programme Director Interdisciplinary Bioscience Doctoral Training Partnership
Gail Preston

Tel +44 (0) 1865 275132 (Plants)
Tel +44 (0) 1865 610661 (DTC)
Fax +44 (0) 1865 275074

Research Area

Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions

Research Description

Our research focuses on plant-microbe and microbe-microbe interactions, with a particular emphasis on bacterial diseases of plants and mushrooms.  We aim to understand how the microenvironment inside host organisms affects disease development and the evolution of pathogenic microorganisms, and how environmental factors such as soil mineral nutrients and pollutants can tip the balance between disease resistance and susceptibility.  We are also studying how the metabolic and regulatory networks and biosynthetic capabilities of plant-associated microorganisms contribute to disease development, and how knowledge of host-microbe interactions can be exploited for biotechnological applications and disease control.
Our interdisciplinary research programme uses a wide variety of techniques ranging from microbiology, metabolomics, modelling and molecular genetics to imaging and informatics. We collaborate with researchers in the departments of Plant Sciences, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Engineering, Mathematics, Statistics and Zoology at Oxford, and with researchers at UWE (Dr. Dawn Arnold), University of Reading (Dr. Robert Jackson), Kingston University (Dr. Ali Ryan and Dr. Edith Sim), Rothamsted Research (Prof. Mike Beale and Dr. Jane Ward), University of Bath (Dr. Christian Yates) and in the USA (Prof. Alan Collmer and Prof. Joyce Loper) to investigate virulence and antibiotic resistance in pathogenic microorganisms; to study disease development and plant health; and to develop novel techniques that can be used to investigate plant-microbe interactions.
Gail Preston studied Natural Sciences at Christ’s College, University of Cambridge, followed by a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology at Cornell University. She was awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship in 2001. In 2009 she became a Programme Director at the University of Oxford's Doctoral Training Centre and she is currently the Programme Director of the BBSRC-funded Oxford Interdisciplinary Bioscience Doctoral Training Partnership and a fellow of Linacre College.

Full Publication List (while at this department)

Henkels, M.D, Kidarsa, T.A, Shaffer, B.T, Goebel, N.C, Burlinson, P, Mavrodi, D.V, Bentley, M.A, Rangel, L.I, Davis, II E.W, Thomashow, L.S, Zabriskie, T.M, Preston, G.M, Loper, J.E. (2014) Pseudomonas protegens Pf-5 causes discoloration and pitting of mushroom caps due to the production of antifungal metabolites Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions. 27 (7): pp 733-746.


O'Leary, B.M, Rico, A, McCraw, S, Fones, H.N, Preston, G.M. (2014) The infiltration-centrifugation technique for extraction of apoplastic fluid from plant leaves using Phaseolus vulgaris as an example Journal of Visualized Experiments. (94):.


O'Leary, B, Preston, G.M, Sweetlove, L.J. (2014) Increased β-cyanoalanine nitrilase activity improves cyanide tolerance and assimilation in arabidopsis Molecular Plant. 7 (1): pp 231-243.


Qi, Q, Preston, G.M, Maclean, R.C. (2014) Linking system-wide impacts of RNA polymerase mutations to the fitness cost of rifampin resistance in Pseudomonas aeruginosa mBio. 5 (6):.


Ryan, A, Kaplan, E, Nebel, J.-C, Polycarpou, E, Crescente, V, Lowe, E, Preston, G.M, Sim, E. (2014) Identification of NAD(P)H quinone oxidoreductase activity in azoreductases from P. aeruginosa: Azoreductases and NAD(P)H quinone oxidoreductases belong to the same FMN-dependent superfamily of enzymes PLoS ONE. 9 (6):.


Scotti, J.S, Leung, I.K.H, Ge, W, Bentley, M.A, Paps, J, Kramer, H.B, Lee, J, Aik, W, Choi, H, Paulsen, S.M, Bowman, L.A.H, Loik, N.D, Horita, S, Ho, C.-H, Kershaw, N.J, Tang, C.M, Claridge, T.D.W, Preston, G.M, McDonough, M.A, Schofield, C.J. (2014) Human oxygen sensing may have origins in prokaryotic elongation factor Tu prolyl-hydroxylation Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 111 (37): pp 13331-13336.


Burlinson, P, Studholme, D, Cambray-Young, J, Heavens, D, Rathjen, J, Hodgkin, J, Preston, G.M. (2013) Pseudomonas fluorescens NZI7 repels grazing by C. elegans, a natural predator ISME Journal..


Fones, H.N, Preston, G.M. (2013) Trade-offs between metal hyperaccumulation and induced disease resistance in metal hyperaccumulator plants Plant Pathology. 62: pp 63-71.


Fones, H.N, Eyles, C.J, Bennett, M.H, Smith, J.A.C, Preston, G.M. (2013) Uncoupling of reactive oxygen species accumulation and defence signalling in the metal hyperaccumulator plant Noccaea caerulescens New Phytologist. 199 (4): pp 916-924.


Fones, H, Preston, G.M. (2012) The impact of transition metals on bacterial plant disease FEMS Microbiology Reviews..


Ge, W, Wolf, A, Feng, T, Ho, C.-h, Sekirnik, R, Zayer, A, Granatino, N, Cockman, M.E, Loenarz, C, Loik, N.D, Hardy, A.P, Claridge, T.D.W, Hamed, R.B, Chowdhury, R, Gong, L, Robinson, C.V, Trudgian, D.C, Jiang, M, Mackeen, M.M, Mccullagh, J.S, Gordiyenko, Y, Thalhammer, A, Yamamoto, A, Yang, M, Liu-Yi, P, Zhang, Z, Schmidt-Zachmann, M, Kessler, B.M, Ratcliffe, P.J, Preston, G.M, Coleman, M.L, Schofield, C.J. (2012) Oxygenase-catalyzed ribosome hydroxylation occurs in prokaryotes and humans Nature Chemical Biology..


Cusano, A.M, Burlinson, P, Deveau, A, Vion, P, Uroz, S, Preston, G.M, Frey-Klett, P. (2011) Pseudomonas fluorescens BBc6R8 type III secretion mutants no longer promote ectomycorrhizal symbiosis Environmental Microbiology Reports. 3 (2): pp 203-210.


Fones, H, Preston, G.M. (2011) Reactive oxygen and oxidative stress tolerance in plant pathogenic Pseudomonas FEMS Microbiology Letters..


Koskella, B, Thompson, J.N, Preston, G.M, Buckling, A. (2011) Local biotic environment shapes the spatial scale of bacteriophage adaptation to bacteria American Naturalist. 177 (4): pp 440-451.


Mithani, A, Hein, J, Preston, G.M. (2011) Comparative analysis of metabolic networks provides insight into the evolution of plant pathogenic and nonpathogenic lifestyles in Pseudomonas Molecular Biology and Evolution. 28 (1): pp 483-499.


Rico, A, McCraw, S.L, Preston, G.M. (2011) The metabolic interface between Pseudomonas syringae and plant cells Current Opinion in Microbiology. 14 (1): pp 31-38.


Fones, H, Davis, C.A.R, Rico, A, Fang, F, Smith, J.A.C, Preston, G.M. (2010) Metal hyperaccumulation armors plants against disease PLoS Pathogens. 6 (9):.


Mithani, A, Preston, GM, Hein, J. (2010) A Bayesian approach to the evolution of metabolic networks on a phylogeny PLoS Computational Biology 6(8): e1000868..


Park, D.H, Mirabella, R, Bronstein, P.A, Preston, G.M, Haring, M.A, Lim, C.K, Collmer, A, Schuurink, R.C. (2010) Mutations in γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) transaminase genes in plants or Pseudomonas syringae reduce bacterial virulence Plant Journal. 64 (2): pp 318-330.


Preston, G.M, Arnold, D.L. (2010) How bacterial plant pathogens escape their fate in disease-resistant plants Microbiology Today. 37 (3): pp 164-169


Preston, GM, Arnold, DL. (2010) Karma chameleons: How bacterial plant pathogens escape their fate in disease resistant plants Microbiology Today (www.sgm.ac.uk/pubs/micro_today : Aug2010). pp 164-169


Rico, A, Bennett, M.H, Forcat, S, Huang, W.E, Preston, G.M. (2010) Agroinfiltration reduces ABA levels and suppresses Pseudomonas syringae-elicited salicylic acid production in Nicotiana tabacum. PloS one. 5 (1):.


Rico, A, Bennett, M.H, Forcat, S, Huang, W.E, Preston, G.M. (2010) Agroinfiltration reduces ABA Levels and suppresses Pseudomonas syringae-elicited salicylic acid production in Nicotiana tabacum PLoS ONE. 5 (1): pp 1-12.


Howden, A.J.M, Rico, A, Mentlak, T, Miguet, L, Preston, G.M. (2009) Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae B728a hydrolyses indole-3-acetonitrile to the plant hormone indole-3-acetic acid Molecular Plant Pathology. 10 (6): pp 857-865.


Howden, AJ, Harrison, CJ, Preston, GM. (2009) A conserved mechanism for nitrile metabolism in bacteria and plants The Plant Journal. 57 (2): pp 243-253.


Howden, A.J.M., Preston, G.M. (2009) Nitrilase enzymes and their role in plant-microbe interactions Microbial Biotechnology. 2: pp 441-451.


Mithani, A, Preston, G.M, Hein, J. (2009) Rahnuma: Hypergraph-based tool for metabolic pathway prediction and network comparison Bioinformatics. 25 (14): pp 1831-1832.


Mithani, A, Preston, G.M, Hein, J. (2009) A stochastic model for the evolution of metabolic networks with neighbor dependence Bioinformatics. 25 (12): pp 1528-1535.


Silby, M.W, Cerdeno-Tarraga, A.M, Vernikos, G.S, Giddens, S.R, Jackson, R.W, Preston, G.M, Zhang, X.-X, Moon, C.D, Gehrig, S.M, Godfrey, S.A.C, Knight, C.G, Malone, J.G, Robinson, Z, Spiers, A.J, Harris, S, Challis, G.L, Yaxley, A.M, Harris, D, Seeger, K, Murphy, L, Rutter, S, Squares, R, Quail, M.A, Saunders, E, Mavromatis, K, Brettin, T.S, Bentley, S.D, Hothersall, J, Stephens, E, Thomas, C.M, Parkhill, J, Levy, S.B, Rainey, P.B, Thomson, N.R. (2009) Genomic and genetic analyses of diversity and plant interactions of Pseudomonas fluorescens Genome Biology. 10 (5):.


Huang, W.E, Singer, A.C, Spiers, A.J, Preston, G.M, Whiteley, A.S. (2008) Characterizing the regulation of the Pu promoter in Acinetobacter baylyi ADP1 Environmental Microbiology. 10 (7): pp 1668-1680.


Leveau, J.H.J, Preston, G.M. (2008) Bacterial mycophagy: Definition and diagnosis of a unique bacterial-fungal interaction New Phytologist. 177 (4): pp 859-876.


Rico, A, Preston, G.M. (2008) Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000 uses constitutive and apoplast-induced nutrient assimilation pathways to catabolize nutrients that are abundant in the tomato apoplast Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions. 21 (2): pp 269-282.


Rico, A, Jones, R, Preston, GM. (2008) Adaptation to the plant apoplast by plant pathogenic bacteria Plant Pathogenic Bacteria: Genomics and Molecular Biology. Eds. R. W. Jackson. Horizon Scientific Press, Norwich, UK. ISBN: 9781904455370.


Jones, J, Studholme, D.J, Knight, C.G, Preston, G.M. (2007) Integrated bioinformatic and phenotypic analysis of RpoN-dependent traits in the plant growth-promoting bacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25 Environmental Microbiology. 9 (12): pp 3046-3046.


Pallen, MJ, Nelson, K, Preston, GM. (2007) Bacterial Pathogenomics . ASM Press. ISBN: 1555814514.


Preston, GM, Guttman, DS, Toth, I. (2007) Post-genomic analysis of plant pathogenic bacteria Bacterial Pathogenomics. Eds. M. J. Pallen, K. Nelson, and G. M. Preston. ASM Press. ISBN: 1555814514. pp 392-418


Preston, G.M. (2007) Metropolitan Microbes: Type III Secretion in Multihost Symbionts Cell Host and Microbe. 2 (5): pp 291-294.


Song, Y, Hahn, T, Thompson, I.P, Mason, T.J, Preston, G.M, Li, G, Paniwnyk, L, Huang, W.E. (2007) Ultrasound-mediated DNA transfer for bacteria Nucleic Acids Research. 35 (19):.


Huang, W.E, Huang, L, Preston, G.M, Naylor, M, Carr, J.P, Li, Y, Singer, A.C, Whiteley, A.S, Wang, H. (2006) Quantitative in situ assay of salicylic acid in tobacco leaves using a genetically modified biosensor strain of Acinetobacter sp. ADP1 Plant Journal. 46 (6): pp 1073-1083.


Jackson, R.W, Preston, G.M, Rainey, P.B. (2005) Genetic characterization of Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25 rsp gene expression in the phytosphere and in vitro Journal of Bacteriology. 187 (24): pp 8477-8488.


Preston, G.M, Studholme, D.J, Caldelari, I. (2005) Profiling the secretomes of plant pathogenic Proteobacteria FEMS Microbiology Reviews. 29 (2): pp 331-360.


Studholme, D.J, Downie, J.A, Preston, G.M. (2005) Protein domains and architectural innovation in plant-associated proteobacteria BMC Genomics. 6:.


Green, J.B, Fricke, B, Chetty, M.C, Von, During M, Preston, G.M, Stewart, G.W. (2004) Eukaryotic and prokaryotic stomatins: The proteolytic link Blood Cells, Molecules, and Diseases. 32 (3): pp 411-422.


Preston, G, Collmer, A. (2004) The type III secretion systems of plant-associated pseudomonads: Genes and proteins on the move Pseudomonas. Eds. J. L. Ramos. Plenum Press. ISBN: 0306483769. pp 181-219


Preston, G.M. (2004) Plant perceptions of plant growth-promoting Pseudomonas Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B Biological Sciences. 359 (1446): pp 907-918


Gal, M, Preston, G.M, Massey, R.C, Spiers, A.J, Rainey, P.B. (2003) Genes encoding a cellulosic polymer contribute toward the ecological success of Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25 on plant surfaces Molecular Ecology. 12 (11): pp 3109-3121


Preston, G.M, Bertrand, N, Rainey, P.B. (2001) Type III secretion in plant growth-promoting Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25 Molecular Microbiology. 41 (5): pp 999-1014.


Penaloza-Vazquez, A, Preston, G.M, Collmer, A, Bender, C.L. (2000) Regulatory interactions between the Hrp type III protein secretion system and coronatine biosynthesis in Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000 Microbiology. 146 (10): pp 2447-2456


Preston, GM. (2000) Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato: the right pathogen, of the right plant, at the right time Molecular Plant Pathology. 1 (5): pp 263-275.


Rainey, P.B, Preston, G.M. (2000) In vivo expression technology strategies: Valuable tools for biotechnology Current Opinion in Biotechnology. 11 (5): pp 440-444.


Charkowski, A.O, Alfano, J.R, Preston, G, Yuan, J, He, S.Y, Collmer, A. (1998) The Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato HrpW protein has domains similar to harpins and pectate lyases and can elicit the plant hypersensitive response and bind to pectate Journal of Bacteriology. 180 (19): pp 5211-5217


Deng, W.-L, Preston, G, Collmer, A, Chang, C.-J, Huang, H.-C. (1998) Characterization of the hrpC and hrpRS operons of Pseudomonas syringae pathovars syringae, tomato, and glycinea and analysis of the ability of hrpF, hrpG, hrcC, hrpT, and hrpV mutants to elicit the hypersensitive response and disease in plants Journal of Bacteriology. 180 (17): pp 4523-4531


Preston, G.M, Haubold, B, Rainey, P.B. (1998) Bacterial genomics and adaptation to life on plants: Implications for the evolution of pathogenicity and symbiosis Current Opinion in Microbiology. 1 (5): pp 589-597


Preston, G, Deng, W.-L, Huang, H.-C, Collmer, A. (1998) Negative regulation of hrp genes in Pseudomonas syringae by hrpV Journal of Bacteriology. 180 (17): pp 4532-4537