Academic Staff

Watt, Rory Munro

Dr Watt, Rory Munro

BSc, PhD (Edinburgh)

Title: Associate Professor in Oral Biosciences
Discipline area: Applied Oral Sciences
Tel: 2859 0482
Research profiles: HKU Scholars Hub Scopus Google Scholar Citation Researcher ID ORCID

Areas of Research Expertise

  1. Oral microbiology
  2. Microbial biofilms
  3. Spirochaetes
  4. DNA repair and recombination
  5. Bacterial stress responses
  6. Polyphosphate metabolism

Faculty Research Group

Selected Latest Publications


  1. ACHARYA A, Chan YK, Kheur S, Jin L, Watt RM & Mattheos N. Salivary microbiome in non-oral disease: A summary of evidence and commentary. Archives of Oral Biology 2017;83:169-173. doi:10.1016/j.archoralbio.2017.07.019
  2. You M, Chan YK, Lacap-Bugler DC, Huo YB, Gao W, Leung WK & Watt RM. Oral treponeme major surface protein: Sequence diversity and distributions within periodontal niches. Molecular Oral Microbiology 2017;32:455-474. doi:10.1111/omi.12185
  3. ACHARYA A, Chan YK, Kheur S, Kheur M, Gopalakrishnan D, Watt RM & Mattheos N. Salivary microbiome of an urban Indian cohort and patterns linked to subclinical inflammation. Oral Diseases 2017;. doi:10.1111/odi.12676
  4. Xiong L, Yang Y, Ye YN, Teng LL, Chan E, Watt RM, Guo FB, Lau SKP & Woo PCY. Laribacter hongkongensis anaerobic adaptation mediated by arginine metabolism is controlled by the cooperation of FNR and ArgR. Environmental Microbiology 2017;19:1266-1280. doi:10.1111/1462-2920.13657
  5. HUO Y, Chan YK, Lacap-Bugler DC, Mo S, Woo PCY, Leung WK & Watt RM. Multilocus Sequence Analysis of Phylogroup 1 and 2 Oral Treponeme Strains. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 2017;83:e02499-16. doi:10.1128/AEM.02499-16
  6. YU X, Chan YK, Zhuang LF, Lai HC, Lang NP, Lacap-Bugler DC, Leung WK & Watt RM. Distributions of Synergistetes in clinically-healthy and diseased periodontal and peri-implant niches. Microbial Pathogenesis 2016;94:90-103. doi:10.1016/j.micpath.2015.11.029
  7. GAO W, Chan YK, Meng Y, Lacap-Bugler DC, Leung WK & Watt RM. In-depth snapshot of the equine subgingival microbiome. Microbial Pathogenesis 2016;94:76-89. doi:10.1016/j.micpath.2015.11.002
  8. ACHARYA A, Koh ML, Kheur S, Watt RM, Jin L & Mattheos N. Salivary IL-1β and red complex bacteria as predictors of the inflammatory status in sub-peri-implant niches of subjects with peri-implant mucositis. Clinical Oral Implants Research 2016;27:662-667. doi:10.1111/clr.12713
  9. Zhang A, Guo E, Q L, TANG NY, Watt RM & Bartlam M. Purification, crystallization and X-ray crystallographic analysis of a putative exopolyphosphatase from Zymomonas mobilis. Acta Crystallographica Section F Structural Biology Communications 2016;72:172-178. doi:10.1107/S2053230X16000753
  10. Xiong L, Teng LL, Watt RM, Liu C, Lau SKP & Woo PCY. Molecular characterization of arginine deiminase pathway in Laribacter hongkongensis and unique regulation of arginine catabolism and anabolism by multiple environmental stresses. Environmental Microbiology 2015;. doi:10.1111/1462-2920.12897

Books and Chapters

  1. YOU M, Watt RM & Leung WK. Chapter XI: Diversity of Oral Spirochetes and Their Role as Periodontopathogens. In Current Trends in Periodontics and Implant Dentistry.2013,pp.199-214.

Research Grants

Principal Investigator :

  1. 2014-: Whats in your pockets? Single-site analysis of Treponema and Synergistetes populations associated with periodontal health and disease [General Research Fund (GRF)] (HKD619,525)
  2. 2013-: Molecular analysis of Synergistetes communities associated with chronic and aggressive forms of periodontitis [Seed Funding Programme for Basic Research] (HKD100,900)
  3. 2013-: Research Output Prize (Faculty of Dentistry) [Research Output Prize (in Faculty)] (HKD120,000)
  4. 2013-: Raising the alarmone in Staphylococcus aureus: establishing the molecular basis of the stringent response [General Research Fund (GRF)] (HKD950,000)
  5. 2012-: Stress response in the oral pathogen Fusobacterium nucleatum: the interplay between polyphosphate metabolism and the stringent response [Seed Funding Programme for Basic Research] (HKD95,500)
  6. 2012-: Treponema denticola and periodontal disease: novel analytical approaches to probe host-pathogen relationships [General Research Fund (GRF)] (HKD650,000)
  7. 2011-2013: New approaches for the analysis of microbial biofilms associated with periodontal disease [Seed Funding Programme for Basic Research] (HKD98,590)
  8. 2010-2012: A molecular typing system for Treponema denticola: an enigmatic oral pathogen [Seed Funding Programme for Basic Research] (HKD67,000)
  9. 2010-2013: Genes get 'recT' : new and improved methods for bacterial DNA engineering [General Research Fund (GRF)] (HKD908,850)
  10. 2009-2011: Oral Treponemes: Proteomic and genetic analysis [Seed Funding Programme for Basic Research] (HKD80,000)

Co-principal investigator :

  1. 2013-: Infection and Immunology [Seed Funding for Strategic Research Theme] (HKD1,500,000)

Co-Investigator :

  1. 2014-2016: Supporting BDS I student learning, a multilevel approach – defining the scope of PBL learning, peer created assessment for and of learning and support workshops [Teaching Development Grants] (HKD228,217) (with BOTELHO Michael G et al)
  2. 2014-: Family-centered oral health promotion for new parents and their infants: a randomized controlled trial [General Research Fund (GRF)] (HKD822,731) (with WONG May C M et al)
  3. 2013-: A Pilot Study of the Total Microbial Community in Periodontitis Patients using Next Generation Sequencing [Small Project Funding] (HKD69,575) (with Lacap-Bugler, Donnabella Castillo et al)
  4. 2013-2015: Comparison of subgingival bacterial profiles in chronic periodontitis subjects with and without type 2 diabetes by 16S rRNA pyrosequencing [Small Project Funding] (HKD78,000) (with LEUNG W Keung et al)
  5. 2013-: Defining the Roles of the Fundamental Macromolecule Inorganic Polyphosphate in Osteoblasts [General Research Fund (GRF)] (HKD1,235,750) (with et al)
  6. 2013-: Lipoteichoic acid (LTA) of pathogenic Enterococcus faecalis modulates the functional characteristics of osteoblasts and osteoclasts [Health and Medical Research Fund - Full Grant] (HKD765,000) (with ZHANG Chengfei et al)
  7. 2010-2012: The stringent response and biofilm development in Staphylococcus aureus: the role of Rel-family proteins [Small Project Funding] (HKD57,320) (with CHOI Mei Yee et al)
  8. 2010-2013: Tracking metals in cells by metallomics: insights into the metal-associated pathophysiological processes [NSFC/RGC Joint Research Scheme] (HKD744,000) (with et al)
  9. 2005-2007: Determine the functions of the putative metal-binding domain of SARS-CoV helicase [Research Fund for the Control of Infectious Diseases - Full Grants] (HKD805,000) (with et al)
  10. 2003-2004: Development of high throughput screen for the discovery of SARS coronavirus helicase inhibitors [Seed Funding Programme for Applied Research] (HKD132,188) (with et al)

Honours and Awards

  1. Research Award in Periodontology and Microbiology, 29th Annual Scientific Meeting (2015) of the International Association for Dental Research, South-east Asian Division International Association for Dental Research South-east Asian Division. 2015. Watt RM, YU X, Chan YK & Leung WK.
  2. Outstanding Teaching Award (OTA) Team "PBL 2.0: E-learning for Problem-based Learning (PBL) at the Faculty of Dentistry" The University of Hong Kong Teaching Excellence Award Scheme(2012). 2013. Bridges SM, Yiu CKY, Botelho MG, Lo ECM, Tsang PCS, Watt RM, Yang Y & Wong JW.
  3. Best Paper Award in Microbiology / Immunology / Periodontal Research 26th IADR-SEA Annual Scientific Meeting. 2012. Leung WK, You M, Mo S & Watt RM.
  4. Faculty Research Output Prize (2012) Faculty of Dentistry. 2012. Watt RM & Chen W.
  5. Listerine Award in Investigative Periodontology Conjoint Scientific Meeting and 1st Guangdong-Hong Kong Postgraduate Forum in Dental Science. 2010. Mo S, You M, Leung WK & Watt RM.
  6. Common Core Teaching Development Grant . 2010. Tanner JA & Watt RM.


  1. Editorial Board Member (Oral Biology and Dentistry) 2013

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