Professor Julie Morrissey

Professor in Microbial GeneticsGroup Photo

Tel: +44 (0)116 252 3422
Fax: +44 (0)116 252 3378

Personal details

Administrative duties

  • Leicester Microbial Sciences and Infectious Disease Network (LeMID) Co-Research Lead
  • Bacterial Pollution Group Research Lead (together with Professors Julian Ketley, Peter Andrew and Paul Monks


  • Microbial Genetics

External examiner

  • BMedSci, University of Nottingham Medical School
  • BSc Microbiology and Food Sciences, School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham


Pollution ModelAir and metal pollution, bacterial infectious disease and antibiotic resistance

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 bacterial survival in a host and in the environment, and drives antibiotic resistance.

Specific projects include investigation of:

  • The impact of air pollutants on Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae colonisation and virulence.
  • The role of bacteria in the detrimental health outcomes caused by high exposure to air pollutants in megacities.
  • Environmental effects on host-bacteria interactions, and microbiomes.


  • Impact of anthropogenic metal pollution on bacterial survival in the environment and co-selection for antibiotic resistance.
  • The role of copper adaptive responses in bacterial colonisation, virulence and antibiotic resistance.
  • The genetic mechanisms involved in persistent Staphylococcus aureus infections and antibiotic resistance.
  • Investigation of a novel antibacterial target protein involved in antibiotic susceptibility of MRSA.


  1. Air pollution alters Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae biofilms, antibiotic tolerance, and colonisation. (2017) Hussey S. J. K., Purves J., Allcock N., Fernandes V. E., Monks P. S., Ketley J. M., Andrew P. W., Morrissey J. A. Environmental Microbiology doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.
  2. Bayliss C, Morrissey JA, Borrow R. Lack of coverage or vaccine failure? A difficult question for monitoring of Bexsero®, the new meningococcal vaccine. (2016) The Lancet. 2016 387:531-2.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Baker, J., Sitthisak, S., Sengupta, M., Johnson, M., Jayaswal, R. K., Morrissey, J. A. (2011) The Staphylococcus aureus CsoR regulates both chromosomal and plasmid-encoded copper resistance mechanisms. Environmental Microbiology 13:2495-2507.
  7. Johnson, M., Sengupta, M., Purves , J., Tarrant, E., Williams, P. H., Cockayne, A., Muthaiyan, A., Stephenson, R., Ledala, N., Wilkinson, B. J., Jayaswal, R. K., Morrissey, J. A. (2011) Fur is required for the activation of virulence gene expression through the induction of the sae regulatory system in Staphylococcus aureus. Int J Med Microbiol. 1(1):44-52.
  8. Purves, J., Cockayne, A., Moody, P. C. E., Morrissey, J.A. (2010) Comparison of the regulation, metabolic function and role in virulence of the Glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) homologues gapA and gapB in Staphylococcus aureus. Infect Immun. 78(12):5223-32.
  9. Baker, J., Sitthisak, S., Sengupta, M., Johnson, M., Jayaswal, R. K., Morrissey, J. A. (2010) Copper stress induces a global stress response in Staphylococcus aureus and represses sae and agr expression and biofilm formation. Appl Environ Microbiol. 76:150-60.
  10. Johnson, M., Cockayne, A., Morrissey, J. A.(2008) Iron-regulated biofilm formation in Staphylococcus aureus Newman requires ica and the secreted protein Emp. Infect Immun. 76:1756-1765.
  11. Johnson, M., Cockayne, A., Williams, P. H., and Morrissey J.A. (2005). Iron responsive regulation of biofilm formation in Staphylococcus aureus involves Fur-dependent and Fur-independent mechanisms. J. Bacteriol. 187: 8211-8215.


PhD projects

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Contact Details

Department of Genetics
University of Leicester

Adrian Building
University Road
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)116 252 3374
E Mail:

Head of Department
Professor Jacqui Shaw

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