Prof Ray Dixon

Project Leader
Molecular Microbiology

The ability of bacteria to respond to a multitude of environmental signals and integrate these signals to trigger adaptive responses provides a successful strategy for survival in rapidly changing environments. Understanding the molecular mechanisms by which these signals are perceived and integrated is the main aim of our work. 

Our major emphasis is on signal transduction cascades that regulate nitrogen fixation genes in response to oxygen, carbon and fixed nitrogen status.  A long-term goal of this research is to exploit and engineer nitrogen fixation genes for agricultural benefit. 

We also study a specific class of prokaryotic transcription factors that use energy from nucleotide hydrolysis to drive the process of transcription initiation. These bacterial enhancer binding proteins interact at a distance with RNA polymerase holoenzyme containing an unusual sigma factor, sigma54. One such protein under study is NorR, a nitric oxide responsive  transcriptional activator that controls expression of genes required for NO detoxification. Enhancer binding proteins contain a variety of sensory modules that probably contribute to the adaptability and unique physiological diversity of many bacteria.


Tel: 01603 450747

John Innes Centre leading partner in new UK - Brazil Virtual Joint Centre

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Progress towards sustainable, biological nitrogen fixation

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Selected Publications

Yang J., Xie X., Yang M., Dixon R., Wang Y. P. (2017)

Modular electron-transport chains from eukaryotic organelles function to support nitrogenase activity

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America -- p--

Publisher’s version: 10.1073/pnas.1620058114

Wang J., Yan D., Dixon R., Wang Y. P. (2016)

Deciphering the Principles of Bacterial Nitrogen Dietary Preferences: a Strategy for Nutrient Containment

mBio 7 pe00792-16

Publisher’s version: 10.1128/mBio.00792-16

Yang J., Xie X., Wang X., Dixon R., Wang Y. P. (2014)

Reconstruction and minimal gene requirements for the alternative iron-only nitrogenase in Escherichia coli.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111 pE3718-3725

Publisher’s version: 10.1073/pnas.1411185111

Wang L., Zhang L., Liu Z., Zhao D., Liu X., Zhang B., Xie J., Hong Y., Li P., Chen S., Dixon R., Li J. (2013)

A minimal nitrogen fixation gene cluster from Paenibacillus sp. WLY78 enables expression of active nitrogenase in Escherichia coli.

PLoS Genetics 9 pe1003865

Publisher’s version: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1003865

Wang X., Yang J. G., Chen L., Wang J. L., Cheng Q., Dixon R., Wang Y. P. (2013)

Using Synthetic Biology to Distinguish and Overcome Regulatory and Functional Barriers Related to Nitrogen Fixation

PLOS One 8 pe68677

Recent Publications

Robson R., Smith B., Dixon R. (2016)

John Raymond Postgate FIBiol. 24 June 1922 - 22 October 2014

Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 62 p483-504

Publisher’s version: 10.1098/rsbm.2016.0006

Fox A. R., Soto G., Valverde C., Russo D., Lagares Jr A., Zorreguieta A., Alleva K., Pascuan C., Frare R., Mercado-Blanco J., Dixon R., Ayub N. D. (2016)

Major cereal crops benefit from biological nitrogen fixation when inoculated with the nitrogen-fixing bacterium Pseudomonas protegens Pf-5 X940

Environmental Microbiology 18 p3522-3534

Publisher’s version: 10.1111/1462-2920.13376

Huergo L. F., Dixon R. (2015)

The Emergence of 2-Oxoglutarate as a Master Regulator Metabolite.

Microbiology & Molecular Biology Reviews 79 p419-35

Publisher’s version: 10.1128/MMBR.00038-15

Batista M. B., Wassem R., de Oliveira Pedrosa F., de Souza E. M., Dixon R., Monteiro R. A. (2015)

Enhanced oxygen consumption in Herbaspirillum seropedicae fnr mutants leads to increased NifA mediated transcriptional activation.

BMC Microbiology 15 p95

Publisher’s version: 10.1186/s12866-015-0432-6

Balsanelli E., Tadra-Sfeir M. Z., Faoro H., Pankievicz V. C., de Baura V. A., Pedrosa F. O., de Souza E. M., Dixon R., Monteiro R. A. (2015)

Molecular adaptations of Herbaspirillum seropedicae during colonization of the maize rhizosphere.

Environmental Microbiology

Publisher’s version: 10.1111/1462-2920.12887

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Ray Dixon

  • Dr Corinne Appia-Ayme Postdoctoral Scientist


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