Professor Mark Turner

Professor and Academic Senior Lead

School of Agriculture and Food Sustainability
Faculty of Science

Affiliate Professor

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


Mark is a Professor of Food Microbiology and Deputy Head of 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 took up an academic position to specialise in food microbiology at UQ in 2007. Mark leads a research team in the area of food fermentation, food quality and food safety with current funding from the Australian Research Council (ARC Discovery). He has had previous funding from the ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hub, 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 (flavour genes and genomics), plant-based dairy alternative fermentations, antifungal and anti-pathogen (Salmonella and Listeria) biocontrol food applications. He has supervised 20 PhD and MPhil students to completion and currently supervises 6 PhD students and 1 postdoctoral research fellow. He teaches into food microbiology, food safety and food biotechnology courses. He is a Fellow of both the Australian Society for Microbiology (FASM) and Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology (FAIFST) and a member of the editorial boards of mBio, Journal of Food Protection and Food Australia. He was the recipient of the 2017 Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology (AIFST) Keith Farrer Award of Merit. Mark is currently the Secretary of the Australian Association of Food Protection.

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 an ARC Discovery grant.
  • Biocontrol of pathogens and spoilage organisms on foods
    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 Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella on ready-to-eat vegetables as well as spoilage fungi of dairy foods.
  • Fermentation of plant-based dairy alternatives
    This project involves screening plant-dervied lactic acid bacteria from our large collection (~600 isolates) for their abilities to acidify and enhance flavour and texture of plant-based substrates. These include nut-based milks. Identification and characterisation of lactic acid bacteria with potential will follow and initial steps in the development of novel fermented foods will be trialled. Techniques include acidification trials, 16s rDNA sequencing, whole genome sequencing, gene inactivation/overexpression, adaptive laboratory evolution (ALE), flavour volatile analysis (GC-MS) and texture analysis. This project is a collaboration with researchers at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU).


  • Doctor of Philosophy, Queensland University of Technology


View all Publications


View all Supervision


Book Chapter

  • Ho, Van Thi Thuy, Dong, Anran, Lo, Raquel and Turner, Mark S. (2021). Isolation and evaluation of anti-Listeria Lactococcus lactis from vegetal sources. Listeria monocytogenes: methods and protocols. (pp. 243-257) edited by Edward M. Fox, Hélène Bierne and Beatrix Stessl. New York, NY, United States: Humana Press. doi: 10.1007/978-1-0716-0982-8_19

  • Turner, Mark S., Vu, Thu Ngoc Minh, Marcellin, Esteban, Liang, Zhao-Xun and Pham, Huong Thi (2020). Osmoregulation via cyclic di-AMP signaling. Microbial cyclic di-nucleotide signaling. (pp. 177-189) edited by Shan-Ho Chou, Nicolas Guiliani, Vincent T. Lee and Ute Römling. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-33308-9_11

  • 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

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

Completed Supervision