University of Calgary

Raymond Turner

  • Professor
  • Biochemistry

Research Interests

There are two main directions in my laboratory with one focus towards study of the targeting, folding, structure, and assembly of membrane proteins and the other is exploring physiological and biochemical mechanisms of metal based antimicrobial agents. With this in mind, several research projects are underway. 

·         Ongoing research aimed at understanding the mechanisms of bacterial resistance/tolerance towards toxic metals and metalloids. Various metal-based antimicrobials are studied and compared by various omics approaches in combination with targeted molecular microbiology and biochemistry.  Microbes are studied both planktonically and in their biofilm state.  

·         Our Biotechnology research explores bioremediation of organics and metals by bacteria grown as single species or mixed species communities.  Beyond bioremediation we have begun projects aimed at bioconversion of pollutants into value added chemicals and materials by specialized species.  We are actively tuning microbes towards the production of metal/metalloid nanomaterials.

·         The twin-arginine leader dependent translocase (Tat) is under investigation. Our group focuses on the system specific chaperones identified as twin-arginine leader binding proteins (or redox enzyme maturation proteins (REMPs)) involved in the maturation of complex iron sulfur molybdoenzymes (CISM).  Presently our primary question is the protein-protein interactions that facilitate CISM maturation and transport via the Tat system.

·         We are using the biophysical techniques of fluorescence, calorimetry, and size-exclusion HPLC to examine Small Multidrug Resistance (SMR) proteins structure, multimeric states and ligand binding properties. Additionally, we are investigating the Biochemical mechanism of EmrE.  We are presently evaluating the SMR proteins and other multi-drug efflux transporters in the context of their role in resistance in microbial influenced corrosion mitigation.

Graduate Students

Name                          Degree       Topic

Brown, Damon               PhD        Resistance genes and microbial influenced corrosion

Gugala, Natalie              PhD        Biochemical mechanisms of metal-based antimicrobial toxicity and resistance

Piacenza,  Elena            PhD        Characterization of microbially produced metalloid nanomaterials

Monych, Nadia               MSc        Molecular characterization of bacteria under silver ion stress.


Levchenko, Elina           MSc        Interactions between REMP chaperones and the twin arginine translocase



2018 Professor Fellowship, Instituto di Studi Avanzati & University of Bologna, Italy.

2017 University of Calgary Teaching Award – Graduate Supervision

2013 Award of Excellence in Research University of Calgary, Faculty of Science

2011 Senior Fellowship, Instituto di Studi Avanzati, Italy.

2010 Discovery Accelerator Supplement (NSERC) for Outstanding research programs

2007 Visiting Fellowship, Instituto di Studi Avanzati, University of Bologna, Italy.

Selected Publications

ForfulllistseeResearch ID link

A few recent papers from each of the projects


·          Saleh, M., Bay, D., Turner, RJ. (2018) FewconservedaminoacidsinthemultidrugresistancetransporterEmrEinfluencedrugpolyselectivity. AntimicrobialAgentsChemotherapy. 62(8); e00461-18 

·          Presentato, A., Piacenza, E., Darbandi, A., Anikovskiy, M. Cappelletti, M. Zannoni, D., Turner, R.J. (2018) Assembly, growthandconductivepropertiesoftelluriumnanorodsproducedbyRhodococcusaetherivoransBCP1. ScientificReports 8:3923.

·          Presentato, A., Cappelletti, M., Sansone, A., Ferraro, C., Piacenza, E., Milazzo, G., Petruccioli, M., Crognale, S., Steinburechel, A., Demeter, M., Turner, R.J., Zannoni, D. (2018) AerobicdegradationofnaphthenicacidsbyRhodococcusaetherivoransBCP1.  FrontiersinMicrobiology9;672

·          Gugala, N., Lemire, JA., Chatfield-Reed, K., Yan, Y., Chua, G., Turner, RJ. (2018) Usingachemicalgeneticscreentoenhanceourunderstandingoftheantibacterialpropertiesofsilver.Genes 9: 344

·          Bay, D.C., Stremick, C., Turner, R.J. (2017) SecondarymultidrugeffluxmutantsalterEscherichiacoliplanktonicandbiofilmgrowthinthepresenceofantimicrobialcompounds. ResearchinMicrobiology. 168;208-221.

·          Gugala, N, Lemire, J.J., Turner, R.J. (2017) Theefficacyofdifferentanti-microbialmetalsatpreventingtheformationof, anderadicatingbacterialbiofilmsofpathogenicindicatorstrains. J. Antibiotics.  70;775-780.

·          Kuzniatsova, L., Winstone, T.M.L., TurnerR.J.  (2016) Identificationofprotein-proteininteractionbetweentheTatBandTatCsubunitsofthetwin-argininetranslocasesystemandtherespiratoryenzymespecificchaperones. BBA- Biomembranes. 1858;767-775.

·          Frankel, M.L., Bhuiyan, T.I., Veksha, A., Demeter, M.A., Layzell, D.B., Helleur, R.J., Hill, J.M., Turner, R.J. (2016) Removalandbiodegradationofnaphthenicacidsbybiocharandattachedenvironmentalbiofilmsinthepresenceofco-contaminatingmetals. BioresourceTechnology 216;352-361. 


Selected recent reviews.


·          Piacenza, E., Presentato, A., Turner R.J.(2018) Stability of biogenic metal(loid) nanomaterial related to the colloidal stabilization theory of chemical nanostructures.  Critical Reviews Biotechnology. 38(8); 1137-1156.

·          Turner, R.J. (2017) Metal-based antimicrobial strategies. (Invited for special issue: Contribution of microbial biotechnology to sustainable development goals). Microbial Biotechnology 10; 1062-1065.

·          Cherak, S.J. Turner R.J.  (2017) Assembly Pathway of a Bacterial Complex Iron Sulfur Molybdoenzyme. Biomolecular Concepts. 8; 155-167.

·          Chan, C.S., Leach, T.G.H., Winstone, T.M.L., Bay, D.C., Kuzniatsova, L., Tran, V.A., Turner, R.J.  (2014) ‘Come into the fold’: A comparative analysis of bacterial redox enzyme maturation protein members of the NarJ subfamily. BBA- Biomembranes, 1838;2971-2984.

·          Lemire, J. Harrison, J.J. Turner, R.J. (2013) Antimicrobial activity of metals: Mechanisms, molecular targets and applications.  Nature Reviews Microbiology. 11;371-384  

·          Turner, R.J. Borghese, R., Zannoni, D. (2012) Microbial reduction of tellurium as a tool in biotechnology. Biotechnology Advances. 30;954-963.


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