Associate Professor Michael Kertesz

Associate Professor of Soil Microbiology, Associate Dean (Postgraduate), Department of Environmental Sciences

C81 - ATP - The Biomedical Building
The University of Sydney

Telephone +61 2 8627 1022
Fax +61 2 8627 1099

Biographical details

Michael Kertesz is an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences, specializing in Soil microbiology and Molecular microbial ecology. His research interests focus on how bacteria react to changes in their surroundings, especially in soil and compost, and in how they interact with plants and fungi in the region around plant roots (the “rhizosphere”),. He is actively involved in projects on soil health, microbial P and S metabolism in agricultural soils, bioremediation of contaminated soils, and plant-microbe and fungal-microbe interactions, including those that are critical for commercial production of mushroom compost and for high-yield mushroom farming.

Michael initially trained as an organic chemist, but his interests then took a biological direction and his Ph.D. investigated chlorophyll and bacteriochlorophyll biosynthesis (University of Cambridge). From there he moved to Switzerland to work at the Federal Technical University (ETH Zurich), first on bacterial degradation of the herbicide glyphosate (Roundup), and then leading a research group on the biochemistry and genetics of bacterial sulfonate metabolism. In 2000 this led him to a senior lectureship at the University of Manchester, where he developed his microbial ecology interests further to investigate the effect of nutrient limitation on soil microbial communities and on environmental gene expression. He has been in his current position at the University of Sydney since 2009

Research interests

As a molecular microbial ecologist, the science that fascinates Michael most targets questions of functional microbial interactions, especially in soil and rhizosphere environments. Soil and roots constitute a highly dynamic and complex ecosystem and understanding who is doing what, when and with whom can yield a host of new insights, many of which have practical implications for sustainable agriculture.

Farmers add nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur to their soils as fertilizer, to maximize crop yield and quality. Bacteria and fungi in the soil are essential in managing soil health, and ensuring that these soil nutrients are taken up by plants. By understanding their role we can design strategies that conserve natural ecosystems and minimize fertilizer use to achieve more sustainable agriculture. With the support of the GRDC, Michael’s group is studying the role of microbes in soil health, to help identify :below ground” crop breeding targets.

Two of the key nutrients needed by plants and microbes are sulfur and phosphorus. Michael’s group has a continuing research program on sulfur metabolism by soil bacteria, identifying key microbial genes and studying their expression in soils, supported by the ARC and GRDC. He is currently also exploring soil phosphorus cycling, using functional probes for P-cycle genes to characterize how soil bacteria and fungi interact to mobilize soil phosphorus. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) are very important in this process, and Michael’s group is studying the communities they form with specific soil bacteria, in collaboration with groups at the ETH Zurich, and the Chinese Agricultural University, Beijing.

Fungal-bacterial interactionsare also very important in commercial production of button mushrooms. Supported by the Australian Mushroom Growers Association (AMGA) the Kertesz group is conducting a detailed molecular study into the production of mushroom compost, and how bacteria and fungi interact to create optimal growth conditions for the button mushroom. This is exploring key aspects of the composting process, how bacteria help to make the actual mushroom caps, and how to prevent attack by other pathogenic fungi.

Teaching and supervision

Michael Kertesz teaches environmental microbiology at first-year, second-year and third-year undergraduate levels, and contributes to Masters Units. His aim is to provide students with an enthusiasm for and understanding of microbial physiology and ecology, emphasizing the use of both traditional and modern, molecular techniques.

Themes

Soil Security; Food Security and Supply

Selected grants

2013

  • Development of a pilot mushroom farm disease monitoring scheme; Kertesz M; Horticulture Australia Limited/Research and Development Industry Call.

2012

  • Plant-fungal Interactions and Organo-phosphorus Metabolism; Kertesz M, Smernik R, Buenemann E; DVC Research/Bridging Support Grant.
  • Exploring beneficial GxExM interactions for crop yield: effects on soil health; Dijkstra F, Kertesz M; Grains Research and Development Corporation/Research and Development: Gene Discovery.
  • Improving consistency of mushroom compost through control of biotic & abiotic parameters; Bell T, Kertesz M; Australian Mushroom Growers Association/Alternatives & Fundamentals Program.

2011

  • Microbial sulfatases in the rhizosphere and their control by interactions with plants.; Kertesz M; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP).

2010

  • Formulation and application of beneficial microbial inoculants for agriculturally important crops; Deaker R, Kertesz M, Seymour N; Grains Research and Development Corporation/Research and Development: New Farm Products and Services.

Selected publications

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Book Chapters

  • Asakawa, S., Bunemann, E., Frossard, E., Gregorich, E., Jansa, J., Janzen, H., Kertesz, M., Kimura, M., Landi, L., Long, D., et al (2012). Microbially Mediated Processes. In Pan Ming Huang, Yuncong Li, Malcolm E. Sumner et al. (Eds.), Handbook of Soil Sciences Properties and Processes, (pp. 26-1-26-51). Florida, United States of America: CRC Press.

Journals

  • Akbar, S., Sultan, S., Kertesz, M. (2014). Bacterial community analysis in chlorpyrifos enrichment cultures via DGGE and use of bacterial consortium for CP biodegradation. World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology, , 1-12.
  • Wang, F., Jiang, R., Kertesz, M., Zhang, F., Feng, G. (2013). Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal hyphae mediating acidification can promote phytate mineralization in the hyphosphere of maize. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 65, 69-74. [More Information]
  • Robinson, C., Elkins, M., Bialkowski, K., Thornton, D., Kertesz, M. (2012). Desulfurization of mucin by Pseudomonas aeruginosa: Influence of sulfate in the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients. Journal of Medical Microbiology, 61(12), 1644-1653. [More Information]
  • Tetard-Jones, C., Kertesz, M., Preziosi, R. (2012). Identification of Plant Quantitative Trait Loci Modulating a Rhizobacteria-Aphid Indirect Effect. PLoS One, 7(7), 1-7. [More Information]
  • Kawasaki, A., Watson, E., Kertesz, M. (2012). Indirect effects of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon contamination on microbial communities in legume and grass rhizospheres. Plant and Soil, 358(1-2), 169-182. [More Information]
  • Tibbett, M., Ryan, M., Kertesz, M. (2012). Rhizosphere 3: Where plants meet soils down-under. Plant and Soil, 358(1-2), 1-5. [More Information]
  • Zysko, A., Sanguin, H., Hayes, A., Wardleworth, L., Zeef, L., Sim, A., Paterson, E., Singh, B., Kertesz, M. (2012). Transcriptional response of Pseudomonas aeruginosa to a phosphate-deficient Lolium perenne rhizosphere. Plant and Soil, 359(1-2), 25-44. [More Information]
  • Tetard-Jones, C., Kertesz, M., Preziosi, R. (2011). Quantitative trait loci mapping of phenotypic plasticity and genotype-environment interactions in plant and insect performance. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. Biological Sciences, 366(1569), 1368-1379. [More Information]
  • Zytynska, S., Fleming, S., Tetard-Jones, C., Kertesz, M., Preziosi, R. (2010). Community genetic interactions mediate indirect ecological effects between a parasitoid wasp and rhizobacteria. Ecology, 91(6), 1563-1568. [More Information]
  • Monferrer, D., Tralau, T., Kertesz, M., Dix, I., Sola, M., Uson, I. (2010). Structural studies on the full-length LysR-type regulator TsaR from Comamonas testosteroni T-2 reveal a novel open conformation of the tetrameric LTTR fold. Molecular Microbiology, 75(5), 1199-1214. [More Information]
  • Schmalenberger, A., Telford, A., Kertesz, M. (2010). Sulfate treatment affects desulfonating bacterial community structures in Agrostis rhizospheres as revealed by functional gene analysis based on asfA. European Journal of Soil Biology, 46(3-4), 248-254. [More Information]
  • Schmalenberger, A., Hodge, S., Hawkesford, M., Kertesz, M. (2009). Sulfonate desulfurization in Rhodococcus from wheat rhizosphere communities. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 67(1), 140-150.
  • Monferrer, D., Tralau, T., Kertesz, M., Panjikar, S., Uson, I. (2008). High crystallizability under air-exclusion conditions of the full length LysR-type transcriptional regulator TsaR from Comamonas testosteroni T-2 and data-set analysis for a MIRAS structure-solution approach. Acta Crystallographica Section F: Structural Biology and Crystallization Communications, 64(8), 764-769.
  • Schmalenberger, A., Hodge, S., Bryant, A., Hawkesford, M., Singh, B., Kertesz, M. (2008). The role of Variovorax and other Comamonadaceae in sulfur transformations by microbial wheat rhizosphere communities exposed to different sulfur fertilization regimes. Environmental Microbiology, 10(6), 1486-1500.
  • Schmalenberger, A., Tebbe, C., Kertesz, M., Drake, H., Kusel, K. (2008). Two-dimensional single strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) of 16S rRNA gene fragments reveals highly dissimilar bacterial communities in an acidic fen. European Journal of Soil Biology, 44(5-6), 495-500.
  • Schmalenberger, A., Kertesz, M. (2007). Desulfurization of aromatic sulfonates by rhizosphere bacteria: high diversity of the asfA gene. Environmental Microbiology, 9(2), 535-545.
  • Tetard-Jones, C., Kertesz, M., Gallois, P., Preziosi, R. (2007). Genotype-by-Genotype Interactions Modified by a Third Species in a Plant-Insect System. The American Naturalist, 170(3), 492-499.
  • Wogelius, R., Morris, P., Kertesz, M., Chardon, E., Stark, A., Warren, M., Brydie, J. (2007). Mineral surface reactivity and mass transfer in environmental mineralogy. European Journal of Mineralogy, 19(3), 297-307.
  • Kertesz, M., Fellows, E., Schmalenberger, A. (2007). Rhizobacteria and Plant Sulfur Supply. Advances in Applied Microbiology, 62, 235-268.
  • Tralau, T., Vuilleumier, S., Thibault, C., Campbell, B., Hart, C., Kertesz, M. (2007). Transcriptomic Analysis of the Sulfate Starvation Response of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Journal of Bacteriology, 189(19), 6743-6750.
  • Cunliffe, M., Kertesz, M. (2006). Autecological properties of soil sphingomonads involved in the degradation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, 72(5), 1083-1089.
  • Cunliffe, M., Kawasaki, A., Fellows, E., Kertesz, M. (2006). Effect of inoculum pretreatment on survival, activity and catabolic gene expression of Sphingobium yanoikuyae B1 in an aged polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon-contaminated soil. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 58(3), 364-372.
  • Cunliffe, M., Kertesz, M. (2006). Effect of Sphingobium yanoikuyae B1 inoculation on bacterial community dynamics and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon degradation in aged and freshly PAH-contaminated soils. Environmental Pollution, 144(1), 228-237.
  • Mirleau, P., Wogelius, R., Smith, A., Kertesz, M. (2005). Importance of Organosulfur Utilization for Survival of Pseudomonas putida in Soil and Rhizosphere. Environmental Microbiology, 71(11), 6571-6577.
  • Muller, I., Stuckl, C., Wakeley, J., Kertesz, M., Uson, I. (2005). Succinate Complex Crystal Structures of the alpha-Ketoglutarate-dependent Dioxygenase AtsK: Steric Aspects of Enzyme Self-Hydroxylation. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 280(7), 5716-5723.

2014

  • Akbar, S., Sultan, S., Kertesz, M. (2014). Bacterial community analysis in chlorpyrifos enrichment cultures via DGGE and use of bacterial consortium for CP biodegradation. World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology, , 1-12.

2013

  • Wang, F., Jiang, R., Kertesz, M., Zhang, F., Feng, G. (2013). Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal hyphae mediating acidification can promote phytate mineralization in the hyphosphere of maize. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 65, 69-74. [More Information]

2012

  • Robinson, C., Elkins, M., Bialkowski, K., Thornton, D., Kertesz, M. (2012). Desulfurization of mucin by Pseudomonas aeruginosa: Influence of sulfate in the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients. Journal of Medical Microbiology, 61(12), 1644-1653. [More Information]
  • Tetard-Jones, C., Kertesz, M., Preziosi, R. (2012). Identification of Plant Quantitative Trait Loci Modulating a Rhizobacteria-Aphid Indirect Effect. PLoS One, 7(7), 1-7. [More Information]
  • Kawasaki, A., Watson, E., Kertesz, M. (2012). Indirect effects of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon contamination on microbial communities in legume and grass rhizospheres. Plant and Soil, 358(1-2), 169-182. [More Information]
  • Asakawa, S., Bunemann, E., Frossard, E., Gregorich, E., Jansa, J., Janzen, H., Kertesz, M., Kimura, M., Landi, L., Long, D., et al (2012). Microbially Mediated Processes. In Pan Ming Huang, Yuncong Li, Malcolm E. Sumner et al. (Eds.), Handbook of Soil Sciences Properties and Processes, (pp. 26-1-26-51). Florida, United States of America: CRC Press.
  • Tibbett, M., Ryan, M., Kertesz, M. (2012). Rhizosphere 3: Where plants meet soils down-under. Plant and Soil, 358(1-2), 1-5. [More Information]
  • Zysko, A., Sanguin, H., Hayes, A., Wardleworth, L., Zeef, L., Sim, A., Paterson, E., Singh, B., Kertesz, M. (2012). Transcriptional response of Pseudomonas aeruginosa to a phosphate-deficient Lolium perenne rhizosphere. Plant and Soil, 359(1-2), 25-44. [More Information]

2011

  • Tetard-Jones, C., Kertesz, M., Preziosi, R. (2011). Quantitative trait loci mapping of phenotypic plasticity and genotype-environment interactions in plant and insect performance. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. Biological Sciences, 366(1569), 1368-1379. [More Information]

2010

  • Zytynska, S., Fleming, S., Tetard-Jones, C., Kertesz, M., Preziosi, R. (2010). Community genetic interactions mediate indirect ecological effects between a parasitoid wasp and rhizobacteria. Ecology, 91(6), 1563-1568. [More Information]
  • Monferrer, D., Tralau, T., Kertesz, M., Dix, I., Sola, M., Uson, I. (2010). Structural studies on the full-length LysR-type regulator TsaR from Comamonas testosteroni T-2 reveal a novel open conformation of the tetrameric LTTR fold. Molecular Microbiology, 75(5), 1199-1214. [More Information]
  • Schmalenberger, A., Telford, A., Kertesz, M. (2010). Sulfate treatment affects desulfonating bacterial community structures in Agrostis rhizospheres as revealed by functional gene analysis based on asfA. European Journal of Soil Biology, 46(3-4), 248-254. [More Information]

2009

  • Schmalenberger, A., Hodge, S., Hawkesford, M., Kertesz, M. (2009). Sulfonate desulfurization in Rhodococcus from wheat rhizosphere communities. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 67(1), 140-150.

2008

  • Monferrer, D., Tralau, T., Kertesz, M., Panjikar, S., Uson, I. (2008). High crystallizability under air-exclusion conditions of the full length LysR-type transcriptional regulator TsaR from Comamonas testosteroni T-2 and data-set analysis for a MIRAS structure-solution approach. Acta Crystallographica Section F: Structural Biology and Crystallization Communications, 64(8), 764-769.
  • Schmalenberger, A., Hodge, S., Bryant, A., Hawkesford, M., Singh, B., Kertesz, M. (2008). The role of Variovorax and other Comamonadaceae in sulfur transformations by microbial wheat rhizosphere communities exposed to different sulfur fertilization regimes. Environmental Microbiology, 10(6), 1486-1500.
  • Schmalenberger, A., Tebbe, C., Kertesz, M., Drake, H., Kusel, K. (2008). Two-dimensional single strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) of 16S rRNA gene fragments reveals highly dissimilar bacterial communities in an acidic fen. European Journal of Soil Biology, 44(5-6), 495-500.

2007

  • Schmalenberger, A., Kertesz, M. (2007). Desulfurization of aromatic sulfonates by rhizosphere bacteria: high diversity of the asfA gene. Environmental Microbiology, 9(2), 535-545.
  • Tetard-Jones, C., Kertesz, M., Gallois, P., Preziosi, R. (2007). Genotype-by-Genotype Interactions Modified by a Third Species in a Plant-Insect System. The American Naturalist, 170(3), 492-499.
  • Wogelius, R., Morris, P., Kertesz, M., Chardon, E., Stark, A., Warren, M., Brydie, J. (2007). Mineral surface reactivity and mass transfer in environmental mineralogy. European Journal of Mineralogy, 19(3), 297-307.
  • Kertesz, M., Fellows, E., Schmalenberger, A. (2007). Rhizobacteria and Plant Sulfur Supply. Advances in Applied Microbiology, 62, 235-268.
  • Tralau, T., Vuilleumier, S., Thibault, C., Campbell, B., Hart, C., Kertesz, M. (2007). Transcriptomic Analysis of the Sulfate Starvation Response of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Journal of Bacteriology, 189(19), 6743-6750.

2006

  • Cunliffe, M., Kertesz, M. (2006). Autecological properties of soil sphingomonads involved in the degradation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, 72(5), 1083-1089.
  • Cunliffe, M., Kawasaki, A., Fellows, E., Kertesz, M. (2006). Effect of inoculum pretreatment on survival, activity and catabolic gene expression of Sphingobium yanoikuyae B1 in an aged polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon-contaminated soil. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 58(3), 364-372.
  • Cunliffe, M., Kertesz, M. (2006). Effect of Sphingobium yanoikuyae B1 inoculation on bacterial community dynamics and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon degradation in aged and freshly PAH-contaminated soils. Environmental Pollution, 144(1), 228-237.

2005

  • Mirleau, P., Wogelius, R., Smith, A., Kertesz, M. (2005). Importance of Organosulfur Utilization for Survival of Pseudomonas putida in Soil and Rhizosphere. Environmental Microbiology, 71(11), 6571-6577.
  • Muller, I., Stuckl, C., Wakeley, J., Kertesz, M., Uson, I. (2005). Succinate Complex Crystal Structures of the alpha-Ketoglutarate-dependent Dioxygenase AtsK: Steric Aspects of Enzyme Self-Hydroxylation. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 280(7), 5716-5723.

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