Research Network for Metals in Medicine



Dr Kerry C. Carson

BAppSc, B.Sc(Hons), Ph.D

Position: Senior Research Scientist

Affiliation: Division of Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, Western Australian Centre for Pathology & Medical Research

Postal Address:
Division of Microbiology & Infectious Diseases
Western Australian Centre for Pathology & Medical Research
Hospital Avenue Nedlands WA 6009

Phone: +61 (08)9346 4092
Fax: +61 (08)9382 8046

Research Profile

Topical Antimicrobials
My position at the Western Australian Centre for Pathology & Medical Research is funded by Convé Ltd, a privately owned research and development pharmaceutical company. The focus of this research has with been a copper-based topical antimicrobial.

Iron Storage and virulence
Iron storage appears to be an important function among prokaryotes as bacterioferritins and ferritins have been identified in many bacteria. Recent studies have suggested that iron storage may be a virulence factor in some genera as the degree of iron availability can repress invasion and reduce virulence. Burkholderia cepacia is an important opportunistic pathogen involved in nosocomial infections and cystic fibrosis. Patients colonised with B. cepacia may succumb to the "cepacia syndrome" that leads to death within weeks or months after colonisation, while others are colonised but remain stable for years. The virulence mechanisms of B. cepacia are poorly understood.

My private research interests have recently have focussed on the identification and characterisation of the iron-storage proteins of B. cepacia, and their influence, if any, on the induction of virulence factors.

Root nodule bacteria and iron Previously, my research was with the nutritional requirements of root nodule bacteria for the trace element iron. Root nodule bacteria are found in specialised root outgrowths, called nodules, which form when legume roots are infected by soil bacteria from the genera Rhizobia and Bradyrhizobia. The research involved a microbiological and biochemical approach to the questions of iron acquisition via siderophore production and uptake; regulation of siderophore biosynthesis; the biosynthesis of iron transport proteins; synthesis and regulation of iron storage proteins and the chemical characterization of hydroxamate siderophores synthesised by root nodule bacteria

Selected Publications

  1. Carson KC, Dilworth MJ, Glenn AR (1992) Siderophore production and iron transport in Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. viciae MNF710. Journal of Plant Nutrition 15:2203-2220
  2. Carson KC, Holliday S, Glenn AR, Dilworth MJ (1992) Siderophore and organic acid production in root nodule bacteria. Archives of Microbiology 157:264-271
  3. Carson KC, Glenn AR, Dilworth MJ (1994) Specificity of siderophore-mediated iron transport in rhizobia. Archives of Microbiology 161:333-339
  4. Dilworth MJ, Carson KC, Giles RGF, Byrne LT and Glenn AR (1998) Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. viciae produces a novel trihydroxamate siderophore, vicibactin. Microbiology 144:781-791
  5. Stevens JB, Carter RA, Hussain H, Carson KC, Dilworth MJ and Johnston AWB (1998) The fhu genes of Rhizobium leguminosarum which specify siderophore uptake proteins: fhuDCB are adjacent to a pseudogene version of fhuA. Microbiology 145:593-601
  6. St Pierre TG, Carson KC, Webb J, Glenn AR and Dilworth MJ (1999) Evidence for polynuclear iron(III) clusters in the root nodule bacterium Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. viciae WSM710. Biometals 12:73-76
  7. Carson KC, Meyer J-M and Dilworth MJ (2000) Hydroxamate siderophores of root nodule bacteria. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 32:11-21.
  8. Rogers, NJ, Carson, KC, Glenn, AR, Dilworth, MJ, Hughes, MN and Poole, RK (2001) Alleviation of aluminum toxicity to Rhizobium leguminosarum biovar viciae by the hydroxamate siderophore vicibactin. Biometals, 14, 59-66.
  9. Carter, RA, Worsley, PS, Sawers, G, Challis, GL, Dilworth, MJD, Carson, KC, Lawrence, JA, Wexler, M, Johnston, AWB, Yeoman, KH (2002). “The vbs genes that direct synthesis of the siderophore vicibactin in Rhizobium leguminosarum: their expression in other genera requires ECF [sigma] factor RpoI.” Molecular Microbiology, 44: 1153-1166.

International Linkages

Professor Jean-Marie Meyer from the Université Louis-Pasteur, Strasbourg
Professor Andrew Johnston, School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia
Professor Robert Poole, Krebs Institute, University of Sheffield
Dr. Simon Andrews, School for Animal and Microbial Sciences, University of Reading