Doctor Tess McBride

Tess McBrideTess McBride joined the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment in October 2022 as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Plant-Microbe Interactions. Tess is working with Professor Ian Anderson, Doctor Jonathan Plett, Doctor Krista Plett, and Professor Francis Martin (INRAE France) on the role of small secreted proteins in the host range of ectomycorrhizal fungi. This project focuses on the mutualistic interaction between Pisolithus microcarpus and Eucalypt species. The aims include: determining the host range of P. microcarpus, identifying and characterising the small secreted proteins that result in the mutualistic interaction, and determining the effect of environmental change on this interaction.

Tess obtained her BSc (Hons) and PhD from the University of Otago in New Zealand, where she worked in a Phage-Host Interactions laboratory under the supervision of Professor Peter Fineran and Doctor Robert Fagerlund. During her PhD, she characterised the cyanobacterial adaptive immune system, the type I-D CRISPR-Cas system. Her thesis titled: ‘Prokaryotic defence: the type I-D CRISPR-Cas system’ was an exceptional thesis, which is awarded when the thesis is amongst the top 10% of theses examined.

Areas of research

Molecular microbiology, biochemistry, and mycology

Teaching expertise

Tess has co-supervised a Summer Student and a BSc (Hons) student whose projects were related to the regulation of the type I-D CRISPR-Cas system. She has a passion for community outreach and has organised and run the outreach program ‘Hands-On at Otago: Microbiology’ and has been a Project Leader for multiple other High School Workshops. Furthermore, she has done laboratory demonstrating for 200- and 300- level Medicine and Health Microbiology students.

Awards and recognition

  • 2022Exceptional Thesis for the top 10% of theses examined (University of Otago)
  • 2021Young Scientist Program Fellowship (Federation of National Societies of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology)
  • 2021Student Publication Award for the best research paper by a student (Genetics Otago)
  • 2021Margaret di Menna Prize for the best paper by a postgraduate student (Department of Microbiology and Immunology)
  • 2019DT Jones Travel Award (Department of Microbiology and Immunology)
  • 2019-2022Doctoral Scholarship (University of Otago)
  • 2019Summer Studentship Prize (School of Biomedical Sciences)
  • 2018-2019Summer Scholarship (Division of Health Sciences)
  • 2018First Place Poster Presentation (New Zealand Microbiological Society)
  • 2018John Miles Prize  for the top-ranked BSc (Hons) student (Department of Microbiology and Immunology)
  • 2018Webster Centre Scholarship (Webster Centre for Infectious Diseases)
  • 2017-2018Summer Scholarship (School of Biomedical Sciences)

Selected publications

Schwartz EA, McBride TM, Bravo JP, Wrapp D, Fineran PC, Fagerlund RD, Taylor DW, (2022) 'Structural rearrangements allow nucleic acid discrimination by type I-D Cascade', Nature communications, vol.13, no.1, pp 1-11

McBride TM, Schwartz EA, Kumar A, Taylor DW, Fineran PC, Fagerlund RD, (2020) 'Diverse CRISPR-Cas complexes require independent translation of small and large subunits from a single gene', Molecular Cell, vol.80, no.6, pp 971-979


These authors contributed equally