Microbial Biotechnology

A/Prof David Ackerley

We focus on the discovery, engineering, and applications of useful bacterial enzymes.

One area of interest is the use of nitroreductase enzymes to activate useful compounds for anti-cancer gene therapy.

We also study non-ribosomal peptide synthetases and phosphopantetheinyl transferases that play key roles in the synthesis of a range of bioactive products. We have developed a variety of methods to screen for these enzymes and to improve their activity by targeted mutagenesis and directed evolution.

  1. In the news: Podcast: 15 min interview withA/Prof David Ackerley and Dr Janine Copp on Radio New Zealand Our Changing World. 2012. “New Cancer Treatment”
  2. Feature article in Genesis Oncology Trust New Hope Newsletter. 2012. “Enabling a dramatically different approach to cancer therapy”
  3. Focus Story “Evolved Enzymes”, a collection of videoclips, worksheets, animations, and web pages based on our research, at the New Zealand Biotechnology Learning Hub


Group leader

PhD students

  • Alistair Brown
  • Michelle Rich
  • Jasmine Chan-Hyams
  • Abby Sharrock
  • Luke Stevenson
  • Matt Storey

Masters student

  • Jack Sissons

Honours student

  • Melanie Thompson


  • Dr Elsie Williams
  • Dr Janine Copp
  • Dr Becky Edgar
  • Dr Mark Calcott
  • Dr Pearl Swe
  • Dr Laura Green
  • Dr Claire Horvat
  • Dr Gareth Prosser
  • Rory Little
  • Sarah Condon
  • Kate Walmsley
  • Kyle Webster
  • Nick Milne
  • Neil Fisher
  • Louisa Rathgeber


Please contact

Postdoctoral Fellows