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Dr. Honour McCann

B.Sc.(Hons), Ph.D.


physical: Building 12.05 // The Station Crescent // Oteha Rohe
tel: +64 9 4140800 ext 43076 // email: h.mccann(at)


My doctoral research in David Guttman's lab at the University of Toronto (Canada) was primarily oriented towards the development of a screen for the identification of microbial epitopes detected by plant hosts. Plants and animals alike rely on the early detection of microbial invaders to induce an immune response. This defence response is activated by the detection of epitopes called pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs). I used signatures of selection in the core genomes of plant pathogenic bacteria to identify novel candidate elicitors of immunity.


I am investigating the origin and evolution of Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae (Psa), which causes kiwifruit canker disease. A recent global outbreak of a particularly virulent strain of Psa has had a devastating impact on kiwifruit cultivation, as it is both highly transmissible and the severity of infection frequently results in the complete destruction of orchards. Modern agriculture remains vulnerable to significant losses caused by microbial pathogens, particularly where it relies on crops with limited genetic heterogeneity. The commercial cultivation of kiwifruit is largely reliant on the vegetative or clonal propagation of a few cultivars. Unlike most other crops, whose domestication began millennia ago, kiwifruit was domesticated less than a century ago. This is a unique opportunity to study the initial stages in the emergence of an agricultural pathogen.


McCann HC, Rikkerink EHA, Bertels F, Fiers M, Lu A, Rees-George J, Andersen MT, Gleave AP, Haubold B, Wohlers MW, Guttman DS, Wang PW, Straub C, Vanneste J, Rainey* PB & Templeton* MD (2013) Genomic analysis of the kiwifruit pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae provides insight into the origins of an emergent plant disease. PLOS Pathogens 9:e1003503. *co-senior authors

McCann HC, Nahal H, Thakur S and Guttman DS (2012) Identification of innate immunity elicitors using molecular signatures of natural selection. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, March 13 109(11): 4215-4220.

Stavrinides* J, McCann* HC and Guttman DS (2008) Host-pathogen interplay and the evolution of bacterial effectors. Cellular Microbiology 10(2): 285-92. *co-first authors.

McCann HC and Guttman DS (2008) The evolution of the type III secretion system in plant-microbe interactions. New Phytologist 177(1): 33-47.

Honour McCann