Dr Mark Turner

Deputy Head of School

School of Agriculture and Food Sciences
Faculty of Science

Affiliated Associate Professor

Centre for Nutrition and Food Sciences
Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation
+61 7 336 57364


Dr Mark Turner is an Associate Professor in Food Microbiology in the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences at the University of Queensland (UQ). Since completing his PhD at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) under the supervision of Prof Phil Giffard, he has undertaken postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Prof John Helmann (Cornell University, USA, 1999-2000) and in the CRC for Diagnostic Technologies (QUT) (2000-01). He subsequently supported his own position through being awarded a Dairy Australia Fellowship (2001-03) and an NHMRC New Investigator Grant (2004-06). He accepted a teaching and research position at UQ in 2007 and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2011 and Associate Professor in 2015. He leads a research team in the area of food fermentation, quality and safety with current grants from the Australian Research Council (ARC Discovery and ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hub). He has also attracted previous funding from the ARC Industry Transformation Training Centre and Linkage schemes, Horticulture Innovation (HIA), Dairy Innovation Australia Ltd (DIAL) and Geoffrey Gardiner Dairy Foundation (GGDF). His current research focus is in lactic acid bacteria genetics, stress signaling, cheese cultures, antifungal and antipathogen (Salmonella and Listeria) biocontrol applications. Mark or his group members have had the privilege of presenting invited or selected seminars in the USA, UK, Italy, Netherlands, Germany, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Indonesia and South Korea on food quality and safety research areas. He has supervised 16 PhD and MPhil students to completion and currently supervises 8 PhD students, 1 postdoctoral research fellow. He teaches into food microbiology, food safety and food biotechnology courses. He is a Fellow of the Australian Society for Microbiology (FASM) and a member of the editorial boards of mBio and Journal of Food Protection. He was the recipient of the 2017 Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology (AIFST) Keith Farrer Award of Merit.

Research Interests

  • Lactic acid bacteria genetics and manipulation
    This research interest includes fundamental structure and function studies of genes/proteins as well as applications of food and probiotic lactic acid bacteria. These include the economically important cheese fermentation starter bacterium Lactococcus lactis. We are interested in identifying the roles of genes involved in moderating stress resistance (oxidative, cell envelope and osmotic stress) with a focus on understanding c-di-AMP signalling. Techniques used in this project include gene inactivation/overexpression, suppressor mutant selection, next generation genome sequencing and bioinformatics. This work is funded by the ARC Linkage scheme and Dairy Innovation Australia Limited.
  • Bacillus spp spore surveilance and control in dairy products
    This research area centres around the isolation, identification and tracking of spore-forming Bacillus spp in Australian dairy products. We are looking at developing speciation and genotyping methods to type dominant Bacillus species to allow monitoring. This revolves around using real-time (qPCR) methods using a Qiagen Rotorgene Q real-time PCR machine with high resolution melt (HRM) capability that we have in our lab. We are also exploring ways to control spores in dairy products. This work is funded by Dairy Innovation Australia Limited and Geoffrey Gardiner Foundation.
  • Biocontrol of bacterial pathogens on ready-to-eat vegetables
    This research area involves the isolation and identification of naturally occurring lactic acid bacteria (LAB) on ready-to-eat vegetables which have antagonistic activity against bacterial pathogens, such as Escherichia coli, Listeria and Salmonella. These LAB will be tested as biocontrol agents against pathogens on ready-to-eat vegetables and the mechanism(s) of action identified. Techiques in this project involve culture-based antimicrobial screening, PCR, DNA sequencing and developed model vegetable growth systems. We have a collection of over 850 LAB from a variety of different vegetables and fruits in our culture collection. This work is funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia (HIA).
  • Turner food microbiology research group (Jan 2017)
    Staff Prascilla Prasad (Scientific Officer) Dr Van Ho (biocontrol on vegies) Dr Raquel Lo (biocontrol on vegies) PhD Students Primary advisor: 1. Nguyen Nhiep (c-di-AMP level regulating genes in Lactococcus) 2. Chun Hoong Ho (phage induction and resistance in Lactococcus) 3. Lu Yu (high pressure applications for rice) 4. Ngoc Minh Thu Vu (c-di-AMP binding targets in Lactococcus) 5. Thi Huong Pham (c-di-AMP level regulating genes in Lactococcus) Associate advisor: 6. Jing Ai (Techniques for delivery of high-moisture lower energy density shelf-stable rice snacks) - QAAFI 7. Elisabeth Prabawati (application of lactic acid bacteria to enhance shelf life of cheese) 8. Axayacatl Gonzalez Garcia (metabolic engineering of Escherichia coli for the production of propionic acid)
  • Cheese flavour and adjunct cultures
    This project funded by the ARC ITRH and Dairy Innovation Australia involves the screening and characterisation of adjunct lactobacilli strains for flavour forming potential in cheeses. This project involves chemical analysis methods (GC/MS SPME), culture screening, pilot scale cheese making, sensory analysis and genomics.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, Queensland University of Technology


View all Publications


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View all Supervision


Featured Publications

Book Chapter

  • Smith, William M., Dykes, Gary A., Soomro, Aijaz H. and Turner, Mark S. (2010). Molecular mechanisms of stress resistance in Lactococcus lactis. Current Research, Technology and Education Topics in Applied Microbiology and Microbial Biotechnology. (pp. 1106-1118) edited by Antonio Méndez Vilas.Badajoz, Spain: Formatex Research Center.

Journal Article

Conference Publication

  • Nguyen, Vu Tuan, Fegan, Narelle, Turner, Mark S. and Dykes, Gary A. (2012). Influence of prior mode of growth on physiological properties of Campylobacter cells. 12th Government Food Analysts Conference, Brisbane, Australia, 22-24 February 2011. Coopers Plains, QLD, Australia :Health and Food Sciences Precinct (HFSP).

  • Atkins, H., Geier, M. S., Turner, M., Forder, R. E. A., Pattanaik, A. K., Yazbeck, R. and Howarth, G. S. (2010). A novel mutant probiotic and the effects on colonic inflammation in a rat model of colitis. Australian Gastroenterology Week 2010, Gold Coast, QLD, Australia, 20-23 October 2010. Richmond, VIC, Australia :Wiley-Blackwell Publishing. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1746.2010.06450.x

  • Wang, D. J., Turner, M. S., D'Arcy, B. R., Williams, B. A. and Ferruzi, M. G. (2010). Changes in pig ileal bacterial numbers upon exposure to grape seed extract. Nutrition Society of Australia 34th Annual Scientific Meeting (NSA2010), Perth, Australia, 30 November - 3 December 2010. Nutrition Society of Australia (NSA).

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Master Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

Completed Supervision