Centre for Bacterial Cell Biology

Staff Profile

Dr Jon Marles-Wright

Senior Lecturer



Jon Marles-Wright obtained his PhD in structural biology from the University of Oxford, where he focused on understanding how human immune receptors interact with their targets. For his post-doctoral training he moved to the University of Newcastle, where his research focus moved to bacterial cell biology. Following a two-year career development fellowship at the University of Newcastle, where he developed his interest in the structural basis of metabolic compartmentalization within bacteria, Jon was appointed to a Chancellor’s Fellowship at the University of Edinburgh in 2012. Jon was appointed to his current position of Senior Lecturer in Microbial Biotechnology in June 2016.

Jon is an active member of the synthetic biology community and was awarded a SynBio LEAP fellowship in 2015. He has acted as an instructor for the University of Edinburgh iGEM team since 2014 and was co-lead of the team since 2015. The Edinburgh iGEM team have consistently won gold medals and last year won the award for best approach to Policy and Practices in the Undergraduate track. He has acted as Co-lead for the Newcastle University iGEM team since 2017.


MA (Biochemistry), University of Cambridge (2001)

D.Phil (Structural Biology), University of Oxford (2005)

PgCert (Academic Practice), University of Edinburgh (2015)

External Roles

Treasurer, Bioengineering and Bioprocessing Section of the European Federation of Biotechnology

Editor: Subcellular Biochemistry: Macromolecular Protein Complexes (Springer)

Grant Peer Review: Australian Research Council, BBSRC, Joint Genome Institute Synthetic Biology Program,

 Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

External Examiner: University of Glasgow, Biotechnology MSc

Journal Peer Review: Microbiology (Review Board Member), MBio, Molecular Microbiology, Nature Communications, PNAS, Trends in Biochemical Sciences, FEMS journals, FEBS Journals, Biochemistry.

Google Scholar Profile



Dr Marles-Wright's research uses structural biology, biochemistry and cell biology techniques underpinned by synthetic biology technologies to answer questions relating to the function of bacterial compartmentalization systems and their rational design as platforms for biotechnology and synthetic biology.  My group are interested in determining the structural and functional basis for the recruitment and encapsulation of proteins within metabolic compartments, and the biochemistry that occurs within these semi-permeable structures. Through an understanding of the basic biology and design principles of various compartments, we hope to use these as synthetic biology platforms for the production of valuable natural products, and as scaffolds for industrial biotechnology and nano-technology.


The major potential impacts of our research are related to the development of modular systems based on bacterial compartments for use in industrial biotechnology including: 1. platforms designed for the production of toxic proteins within compartments; 2. encapsulation of biosynthetic pathways for valuable natural products to minimize loss of intermediates and maximize metabolic efficiency; 3. use of compartments in bio-mining and bio-remediation for the sequestration and crystallization of toxic metal ions into nano-particles.

Google Scholar Profile


Jon is the Degree Programme Director for the Biology and Biology (Cellular and Molecular) BSc and MBiol degrees in the School of Natural and Environmental Sciences. He is also Degree Programme Director for the Biotechnology and Biodesign MRes programme.

He teaches on courses at all undergraduate and post-graduate stages, with an emphasis on microbial biotechnology, biochemistry, and structural biology.

Jon's lab hosts undergraduate and master's level projects and internships aligned with their research interests, with a focus on the biochemistry and structural biology of metal storage systems in bacteria and applications of protein biotechnology in biocatalysis. Please get in touch if you are interested in projects in these areas.

We are currently recruiting PhD studentships for projects related to our research interests. Informal enquiries are welcome at any time.