Microbial Biotechnology Laboratory

About the laboratory

The microbial biotechnology laboratory focuses on the filament-like bacteriophage (Ff). Applying our knowledge about the Ff bacteriophage assembly, we have converted the filaments into short nanorods (Ff-nano) that cannot replicate and do not carry any genes. Ff-nano or normal Ff bacteriophage displaying attached polypeptides, antibodies or chemical “handles” are applied in diagnostics, pathogen and toxin detection, tissue imaging, drug targeting, metagenomics and identification of novel proteins that bind to complex targets.

Current research

In addition to work on the filamentous phage-based display technologies and phage assembly, we study stress that is imposed on Escherichia coli by secretion of Ff phage or disease-causing toxins. The aim of this work is to understand toxin secretion and to identify novel antibiotics that specifically kill toxin- secreting bacteria. Another research topic is development of novel synergistic antibiotic combinations that are active against antibiotic resistant “superbugs” such as Beta-lactamase-producing Enterobacteriacea.

Marina in lab

Current laboratory members

  • Dr Majela Gonzalez Miro
  • Vuong Van Hung Le
  • Marina Rajic
  • Catrina Olivera
  • Rayen Leon
  • Victoria Campbell

Alumni (former PhD students)

  • Dragana Gagic (Massey University)
  • Nicholas Bennett (U. of Alberta, Canada)
  • David Sheerin (U. of Freiburg, Germany)
  • Carl Yeoman (U. Montana, USA)
  • Julian Spagnuolo (U. Basel, Switzerland)
  • Samantha Noel (Aarhus U. Denmark)
  • Nick Palevich (AgResearch)
  • Chris Kirk (Plant and Food Research Institute)
  • Sofia Khanum (AgResearch)
  • Sadia Sattar
  • Milica Ciric
  • Wesley Wen
  • Preeti Raju


Associate Professor Jasna Rakonjac

I am a microbiologist / molecular biologist / biochemist / biotechnologist. My research has emphasis on technological innovations involving bacteriophages and bacteria that will find their ultimate applications in medicine, veterinary science and agriculture.


Phone: +64 (06) 69517716

Massey University
School of Fundamental Sciences
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Riddet Road
Palmerston North 4442
New Zealand

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