Dr Mike Dyall-Smith
PositionSenior Lecturer Microbiology
Phone/Faxwork02 6933 2209
I completed a B.Sc. (hons) degree in 1977 at the University of Melbourne, majoring in microbiology, and continued to a Ph.D. in the laboratory of Ian Holmes (a co-discoverer of human rotavirus). In 1981 I as awarded an Australian Postgraduate Fellowship from the NH&MRC, and worked for 3 years with colleagues at the CSIRO division of Protein Chemistry, learning molecular biology and applying that to the study of rotaviruses. I joined the academic staff at the Department of Microbiology (University of Melbourne) in 1984, and continued working on rotavirus as well as branching out into other areas, including human papillomaviruses, and the newly emerging field of the third domain of cellular life, the Archaea. I eventually focused on extremely halophilic archaea and their viruses, forging links with the salt industry in Australia and becoming a world recognised expert on haloarchaea. In 1991 I won the Frank Fenner research prize, awarded by the Australian Society for Microbiology. In 2008, I resigned from the University of Melbourne and took up an invitation as Visiting Professor at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry in Munich, Germany. There I studied the genomics of haloarchaea, working in an inspiring and well-funded research environment that allowed me to do full-time research with no limits. I returned to Australia in early 2011 to take up a position at CSU, joining the staff of the Biomedical School, Wagga.
I have published 87 journal articles and eight book chapters, mainly on haloarchaea. Currently, I am an editor for the journal Extremophiles, and the new e-journal, Frontiers of Microbiology. Previously, I have served on the editorial boards of three other microbiology journals.
I have received numerous ARC discovery grants, and have two patents related to rotavirus. Member of the ARC small grants committee, UoM (1995-1996). Chair of ARC small grants committee, UoM (1997).
I regularly review manuscripts submitted to a variety of microbiology journals, including J. Bacteriology, Molecular Microbiology, Environmental Microbiology, etc.
- Member of the ICSP Subcommittee on the Taxonomy of Halobacteriaceae (continuing).
- Member Bacterial Virus Subcommittee of the ICTV. (1999-)
- Associate member of the American Society for Microbiology. (1985 - 2000).
- Member of the Australian Society for Microbiology (MASM) (1980 - 2000). Honorary treasurer of the Victorian branch of ASM (1984-1988).
I have taught microbiology to a variety of courses and levels. Currently I am teaching into:
- FDS202 (food microbiology),
- MCR101 (core microbiology),
- BMS323 (infectious microbiology and immunology),
- BMS338 (clinical bacteriology).
My research has focused on the extremely halophilic Archaea that live in the salt lakes and salterns in Australia. These prokaryotes grow to such high concentrations that they colour the water a distinct shade of red. I am interested in their molecular biology, their adaptation to life at high salt, and their interactions with other microorganisms, particularly the viruses that also abound in these waters. As representatives of the Archaea, the third domain of cellular life, they offer many new vistas in biology. This research has led me in a number of directions including; the design and construction of genetic tools to allow study of these organisms (e.g. plasmids, selectable markers, gene-expression reporter), the isolation and analysis of novel viruses, the study of archaeal gene expression, and the isolation of novel species and genera of haloarchaea. My students and I developed the widely used novobiocin-resistance marker for haloarchaea, the bgaH gene-expression reporter, and pHK2-based plasmids using these. We produced the first recombination-deficient mutant in Archaea (a radA mutant of Haloferax). We isolated novel head-tail haloviruses (HF1, HF2), the first fusiform haloviruses (His1 and His2, Salterprovirus group) and the first spherical haloviruses (SH1, PH1). We completed the first full genome sequence of a halovirus (HF2) and the first comparison of complete genomes of related halovirus isolates (HF1-HF2, and His1-His2). In 2004, we were the first to publish the isolation of the square archaeon of Walsby, subsequently named Haloquadratum walsbyi. This species is probably the most environmentally significant organism in salt lakes around the world, yet it was unable to be grown in the laboratory for 25 years. You can learn more at www.haloarchaea.com
- Dyall-Smith M: Dangerous weapons: a cautionary tale of CRISPR defence. Molecular microbiology 2011, 79(1):3-6.
- Wende A, Johansson P, Vollrath R, Dyall-Smith M, Oesterhelt D, Grininger M: Structural and biochemical characterization of a halophilic archaeal alkaline phosphatase. J Mol Biol 2010, 400(1):52-62.
- Oh D, Porter K, Russ B, Burns D, Dyall-Smith M: Diversity of Haloquadratum and other haloarchaea in three, geographically distant, Australian saltern crystallizer ponds. Extremophiles 2010, 14(2):161-169.
- Burns DG, Janssen PH, Itoh T, Minegishi H, Usami R, Kamekura M, Dyall-Smith ML: Natronomonas moolapensis sp. nov., non-alkaliphilic isolates recovered from a solar saltern crystallizer pond, and emended description of the genus Natronomonas. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol 2010, 60(Pt 5):1173-1176.
- Burns DG, Janssen PH, Itoh T, Kamekura M, Echigo A, Dyall-Smith ML: Halonotius pteroides gen. nov., sp. nov., an extremely halophilic archaeon recovered from a saltern crystallizer. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol 2010, 60(Pt 5):1196-1199.