John Mackay

John has been working in the PCR area for over 25 years and has been developing and optimising real-time PCR and molecular assays for most of them ! Prior to establishing dnature, John held a range of positions in Applied Science and Molecular Diagnostics for Roche before leaving Auckland to move to Gisborne and work on grapevine virus diagnostics.

John brings a strong sales, technical support and laboratory background to dnature. Over the past few years John has developed diagnostic qPCR assays and DNA/RNA extraction methods for a range of applications.  Examples of this work include Psa3 (kiwifruit), bonamia (Bluff oyster), honeybee pathogens and the industry Manuka honey DNA test.

John has developed a number of multiplex qPCR assays, including the detection of 5 grapevine viruses plus internal control in the one reaction. In 2008-9 he developed a novel duplex hydrolysis (‘TaqMan’) probe assay for Avocado Sunblotch Viroid (ASBVd) that was used to declare country of freedom for New Zealand, from this dangerous pathogen.

John has a special interest in high resolution melting analysis and has designed a number of genotyping SNP assays using both amplicon and probe (unlabelled and snapback) formats. He developed and published a DNA fingerprinting method using the high resolution melting of microsatellites for determining plant cultivars – this method has now been extended to other plant and human microsatellite analyses by others.

The major drive of the testing applications for dnature is using DNA methods to help solve issues facing various industries (DNA in a range of nature = dnature).


  • Khan S., MACKAY J.F., Liefting L. and Ward L. (2015). Development of a duplex one-step RT-qPCR assay for the simultaneous detection of Apple scar skin viroid and plant RNA internal control. J. Virol. Methods 221: 100-105
  • Taking it to the Extreme: PCR at Wittwerspeed. MACKAY J.F. (2015). Clinical Chemistry 61(1): 4-5
  • Vanneste, J.L., Yu, J., Cornish, D.A., Tanner, D.J., Windner, R., Chapman, J.R., Taylor, R.K., MACKAY, J.F.,Dowlut. (2013). Identification, virulence and distribution of two populations of Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae in New Zealand. Plant Disease 96 (6): 708-719
  • MACKAY J.F. and Wittwer C.T. (2011). High Resolution Melting Analysis. In PCR Troubleshooting and Optimization: The Essential Guide. Horizon Press.
  • Gladding‌ P., MACKAY J‌., Webster‌ M., White‌ H., Ellis‌ K., Lee‌ M., Kasabov‌ N. & Stewart R. (2010). Longitudinal study of a 9p21.3 SNP using a national electronic healthcare database. Future Medicine 7(4): 361-369
  • Bell V.A., Bonfiglioli R.G., Walker J.T., Lo P.L., MACKAY J.F. and McGregor S.E. (2009). Grapevine Leafroll-associated Virus 3 Persistence in Vitis vinifera remnant roots. J. Plant Path. 91(3): 527-533
  • MACKAY J.F., Wright C.D., Bonfiglioli R.G. (2008). A new approach to varietal identification in plants by microsatellite high resolution melting analysis: application to the verification of grapevine and olive cultivars. Plant Methods. May 19;4:8.