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Microbiology Logo Microbiology & Immunology
Te Tari Moromoroiti me te Ārai Mate

Professor Greg Cook

Research interests:

Microbial physiology and biochemistry, antimicrobial resistance, drug discovery, molecular microbiology, structural biology

Current research:

Research in my laboratory is focused on developing bacterial metabolism and energetics as drug targets to combat bacterial pathogens and environmental microorganisms that contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. The goal of this research is to produce a new class of antibiotics – termed metabiotics that specifically target the metabolism of microorganisms.  This research includes bacteriology, biochemistry, protein purification and crystallography, PC3 laboratory experiments, molecular biology and genetics.

Management Principal Investigator (leader TB flagship), The Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery, University of Auckland.

Research projects 

  • A. Bacterial energetics as a new target space for drug development

  • B. Fueling persistence: adaptation of Mycobacterium tuberculosis to hypoxia and low energy conditions

  • C. Antimicrobial resistance and finding new drugs for environmental microorganisms

These projects utilize modern technologies (e.g. proteomics, transcriptomics, molecular biology and structural biology) to address important questions in bacterial adaptation to environment.

Otago Bacterial Energetics and Antimicrobial Resistance (OBEAR) Group

Htin AungJames CheungScott FergusonNichaela Harbison PriceAlan HughesNicola MarechalYoshio NakataniJessica PetriMichael PetridisEuan RussellYosuke Shimaki

Postgraduate students

Cara AdolphRachel HerronKiel HardsLiam HaroldGeorge PoulterReuben VercoeZoe WilliamsMel KnottenbeltAlex KrauseAlec CrossRowena Rushton Green

Cook Lab 2017

Recent publications 

View Google Scholar profile


Petridis, M., Vickers, C., Robson, J., McKenzie, J.L., Bereza, M., Sharrock, A., Aung, H.L., Arcus, V.L. and Cook G.M. Structure and function of AmtR in Mycobacterium smegmatis:Implications for post-transcriptional regulation of urea metabolism through a small antisense RNA. Journal of Molecular Biology 2016 Sep 15. pii: S0022-2836(16)30373-4. doi:10.1016/j.jmb.2016.09.009. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 27640309.

McMillan, D.G, Watanabe, R., Ueno, H., Cook, G.M, and Noji, H. Biophysical characterization of a thermoalkaliphilic molecular motor with a high stepping-torque gives insight into evolutionary ATP synthase adaptation. Journal of Biological Chemistry 2016 Sep 13. pii: jbc.M116.743633. [Epub ahead of print] PMID:27624936 

Ferguson, S.F., Cook, G.M., Montgomery, M.G., Leslie, A.G.W. and Walker, J.E. The regulation of the thermoalkaliphilic F1-ATPase from Caldalkalibacillus thermarum. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2016 2016 Sep 12. pii: 201612035. [Epub ahead of print] PMID:27621435

Kavianinia, I., Kunalingam, L., Harris, P., Cook, G.M. and Brimble, M. Total synthesis and stereochemical revision of the anti-tuberculosis peptaibol trichoderin A. Organic Letters  2016 Aug 5;18(15):3878-81. doi: 10.1021/acs.orglett.6b01886. Epub 2016 Jul 28. PMID: 27467118

Heikal, A., Hards, K., Cheung, C.-Y., Menorca, A., Timmer, M.S., Stocker, B.L. and Cook, G.M. Activation of type II NADH dehydrogenase by quinolinequinones mediates antitubercular cell death. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 71:2840-2847 (2016) PMID: 27365187

Cook, G.M. and Poole, R.K. A bacterial oxidase like no other? Science 352: 518-519 (2016) [IF = 35.3] PMID: 27126025

Tun, T., Nyunt, W.W., Latt, K.Z., Samaranayaka, A., Crump, J.A., Thinn, K.K., Cook, G.M. and Aung, H.L. Drug-resistant tuberculosis among previously treated patients in Yangon, Myanmar.International Journal of Mycobacteriology 5:366-367 (2016) PMID:27847028

Aung, H.L., Tun, T., Permina, E., Nyunt, W.W., Aung, S.T., Thinn, K.K., Crump, J.A., Cook, G.M. Draft genome sequences of two drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolates from Myanmar. Genome Announcements 4(5). pii: e00850-16. doi: 10.1128/genomeA.00850-16.

Tun, T., Aye, K.S., Nyunt, W.W., Crump, J.A., Nakajima, C., Suzuki, Y., Thinn, K.K., Cook, G.M. and Aung, H.L. Genotypic diversity of Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains in Myanmar. Infectious Disease (Lond). 2016 Sep 19:1-3. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 27644269

Henderson, G., Cook, G.M. and Ronimus, R.S. Enzyme- and gene-based approaches for developing methanogen-specific compounds to control ruminant methane emissions: a review. Animal Production Science

Medini, K., Harris, P.W.R., Menorca, A., Hards, K., Cook, G.M. and Brimble, M.A. Synthesis and activity of a diselenide bond mimetic of theantimicrobial protein caenopore-5. Chemical Science (Manuscript ID: SC-EDG-11-2015-004187) IN PRESS (2016).

Aung, H.L., Thanda, T., Moradigaravand, D., Köser, C., Nyunt, W.W., Aung, S.T., Lwin, T., Thinn, K.K., Crump, J.A., Parkhill, J., Peacock, S.J., Cook, G.M. and Hill, P.C. Whole-genome sequencing of multidrug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolates from Myanmar. Journal of Global Antimicrobial Resistance 6:113-117 (2016)

Holyoake, L.V., Hunt, S., Sanguinetti, G., Cook, G.M., Howard, M.J., Rowe, M.L., Poole, R.K. and Shepherd, M. CydDC-mediated reductant export in Escherichia coli controls the transcriptional wiring of energy metabolism and combats nitrosative stress. Biochemistry Journal 473:693–701 (2016)

Dunn, E.A., Cook, G.M. and Heikal, A. Comparison of lipid and detergent enzyme environments for identifying inhibitors of membrane-bound energy-transducing proteins. Journal of Microbiological Methods 120:41-43 (2016)

Dunn, E.A., Cook, G.M. and Heikal, A. Annotated compound data for modulators of detergent-solubilised or lipid-reconstituted respiratory type II NADH dehydrogenase activity obtained by compound library screening. Data Brief 6:275-278 (2016)


Petridis, M., Benjak, A. and Cook, G.M. Defining the nitrogen regulated transcriptome of Mycobacterium smegmatis using continuous culture. BMC Genomics 16:821 DOI 10.1186/s12864-015-2051-x (2015)

Greening, C., Biswas, A., Carere, C.R., Jackson, C.J., Taylor, M.C., Stott, M.B., Cook, G.M., Morales, S.E. Genomic and metagenomic surveys of hydrogenase distribution indicate H2 is a universal energy source for microbial growth and survival. The ISME Journal 10:761-77 (2015)

Greening, C., Carere, C.R., Rushton-Green, R., Harold, L.K., Hards, K., Taylor, M.C., Morales, S.E., Stott, M.B. and Cook, G.M. Persistence of dominant soil phylum Acidobacteria by trace gas scavenging. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 112:10497–10502 (2015)

Zhang, X.-X., Gauntlett, J., Oldenburg, D., Cook, G.M. and Rainey, P. Role of the transporter-like sensor kinase CbrA in histidine uptake and signal transduction. Journal of Bacteriology 197:2867–2878 (2015)

Lu, P., Heineke, M.H., Koul, A., Andries, K., Cook, G.M., Lill, H., van Spanning, R. and Bald, D. The cytochrome bd-type quinol oxidase is important for survival of Mycobacterium smegmatis under peroxide and antibiotic-induced stress. Scientific Reports 5:10333 | DOI: 10.1038/srep10333 (2015)

Campen, R.L., Ackerley, D.F., Cook, G.M. and O’Toole, R.F. Development of a Mycobacterium smegmatis transposon mutant array for characterising the mechanism of action of tuberculosis drugs: findings with isoniazid and its structural analogues. Tuberculosis (Edinb) 95:432-439 (2015)

Tran, T.T., Palmer, H.R., Weimar, M.R., Arias, C.A., Cook, G.M. and Murray, B.E. Oral bacitracin: a consideration for suppression of intestinal VRE and for VRE bacteremia from an apparent GI tract source. Clinical Infectious Diseases 60:1726-1728 (2015)

Hards, K., Robson, J., Berney, M., Shaw, L., Bald, D., Koul, A., Andries, K. and Cook, G.M. Bactericidal mode of action of bedaquiline. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 70:2028–2037 (2015)

Aung, H.L., Dey, D., Janssen, P.H., Ronimus, R.S. and Cook, G.M. A high-throughput screening assay for identification of inhibitors of the A1AO-ATP synthase of the rumen methanogen Methanobrevibacter ruminantium M1. Journal of Microbiological Methods 110:15-17 (2015)

Aung, H.L., Dixon, L.L., Smith, L.J., Sweeney, N.P., Robson, J.R., Berney, M., Buxton, R.S., Green, J. and Cook, G.M. Novel regulatory roles of cAMP receptor proteins (CRPs) in fast-growing environmental mycobacteria. Microbiology 161:648-61 (2015)

 Medini, K., Harris, P.W.R., Hards, K., Dingley, A.J., Cook, G.M. and Brimble, M.A. The chemical synthesis of caenopore-5; a pore forming antimicrobial protein, using native chemical ligation at a Glu-Cys site. ChemBioChem 16:328-336 (2015)


Cook, G.M., Greening, C., Hards, K. and Berney, M. Energetics of pathogenic bacteria and opportunities for drug development. Advances in Microbial Physiology - Advances in Bacterial Pathogen Biology 65:1-62. Epub 2014 Nov 4.

Hartman, T.,Weinrick, B., Vilchèze, C., Berney, M., Tufariello, J., Cook, G.M. and Jacobs, W.R. Jr. Succinate dehydrogenase is the regulator of respiration in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. PLoS Pathogens 10: e1004510 (2014)

Li, Y., Mortuza, R., Milligan, D., Tran, S., Strych, U., Cook, G.M. and Krause, K. Investigation on the essentiality of glutamate racemase in Mycobacterium smegmatis. Journal of Bacteriology Sep 22 [Epub ahead of print] (2014)

Dunn, E.A., Roxburgh, M., Larsen, L., Smith, R.A.J., McLellan, A.D., Heikal, A., Murphy, M.P. and Cook, G.M. Incorporation of triphenylphosphonium functionality improves the inhibitory properties of phenothiazine derivatives in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry (2014)

Berney, M., Greening, C., Conrad, R., Jacobs, W.R. and Cook, G.M. An obligately aerobic soil bacterium activates fermentative hydrogen production to survive reductive stress during hypoxia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2014)

Pecsi, I., Hards, K., Ekanayaka, N., Berney, M., Hartman, T., Jacobs Jr., W.R. and Cook, G.M. Essentiality of succinate dehydrogenase in Mycobacterium smegmatis and its role in the generation of the membrane potential under hypoxia. mBio 5(4):e01093-14 (2014) 

Greening, C., Villas-Bôas, S.G., Robson, J., Berney, M. and Cook, G.M. The growth and survival of Mycobacterium smegmatis is enhanced by co-metabolism of atmospheric H2. PLoS ONE 9(7):e103034 (2014)

Gebhard, S., Busby, J., Fritz, G., Moreland, N., Cook, G.M., Lott, S., Baker, E.N. and Money, V. Crystal structure of PhnF, a GntR-family transcriptional regulator of phosphate transport in Mycobacterium smegmatis. Journal of Bacteriology 196:3472–3481 (2014)

Aung, H.L., Berney, M. and Cook, G.M. Hypoxia-activated cytochrome bd expression in Mycobacterium smegmatis is cAMP receptor protein (CRP)-dependent.Journal of Bacteriology 196:3091-3097 (2014)

Kingston, A.W., Zhao, H., Cook, G.M. and Helmann, J.D. Accumulation of heptaprenyl diphosphate sensitizes Bacillus subtilis to bacitracin: Implications for the mechanism of resistance mediated by the BceAB transporter. Molecular Microbiology 93:37-49 (2014)

Portela, C., Smart, K., Tumanov, S., Cook, G.M. and Villas-Boas, S.* The global metabolic response of Enterococcus faecalis to oxygen. Journal of Bacteriology 96:2012-2022 (2014)

Fang, C., Stiegeler, E., Cook, G.M., Mascher, T. and Gebhard, S.*  Bacillus subtilis as a platform for molecular characterisation of regulatory mechanisms of Enterococcus faecalis resistance against cell wall antibiotics. PLoS ONE 9:e93169 (2014) 

Arraiano, C.M. and Cook, G.M. Editorial overview: Cell regulation: Microbial cell regulation-looking in from the outside. Current Opinion in Microbiology 18:1–3 (2014)

Greening, C., Berney, M., Hards, K., Cook, G.M.*, Conrad, R.* A soil actinobacterium scavenges atmospheric H2 using two membrane-associated, oxygen-dependent [NiFe]-hydrogenases. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111:4257–4261 (2014)

Greening, C.* and Cook, G.M.* Integration of hydrogenase expression and hydrogen sensing in bacterial cell physiology.  Current Opinion in Microbiology 18:30–38 (2014)

Cook, G.M.*, Hards, K., Vilchèze, C., Hartman, Y. and Berney, M. Energetics of Respiration and Oxidative Phosphorylation in Mycobacteria. In Molecular Genetics of Mycobacteria, Hatfull, G. and Jacobs, Jr., W.R. (Eds) ASM Press, Washington DC. IN PRESS (2014).

Heikal, A., Nakatani, Y., Dunn, E., Weimar, M.R., Day, C., Baker, E.N., Lott, J.S., Sazanov, L.A. and Cook, G.M.* Structure of the bacterial type II NADH dehydrogenase: a monotopic membrane protein with an essential role in energy generation. Molecular Microbiology 91:950–964 (2014) Cover of Journal

Lagautriere, T., Bashiri, G., Paterson, N., Berney, M., Cook, G.M. and Baker, E.N.* Characterization of the proline utilization pathway in Mycobacterium tuberculosis through structural and functional studies. Acta Crystallographica Section D70, 968–980 (2014)

Berney, M., Greening, C., Hards, K., Collins, D.M. and Cook, G.M.* Three different [NiFe]-hydrogenases confer metabolic flexibility in the obligate aerobe Mycobacterium smegmatis. Environmental Microbiology 16:318–330 (2014)

Gebhard, S.*, Fang, C., Shaaly, A., Leslie, D., Weimar, M., Kalamorz, F., Carne, A., and Cook, G.M. Identification and characterisation of a bacitracin resistance network in Enterococcus faecalis. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 58:1425-1433 (2014)

McNeil, M.B., Hampton, H.G., Hards, K.J. Watson, B.N.J., Cook, G.M. and Fineran, P.C.* The succinate dehydrogenase assembly factor, SdhE, is required for the flavinylation and activation of fumarate reductase in bacteria. FEBS Letters 2013 Dec 25. pii: S0014-5793(13)00927-7. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2013.12.019. [Epub ahead of print]


Tsai, C.-J., Tani, K., Irie, K., Hiroaki, Y., Shimomura, T., McMillan, D.G., Cook, G.M., Schertler, G., Fujiyoshi, Y. and Li, X.-D.* Two alternative conformations of a voltage-gated sodium channel. Journal of Molecular Biology 425:4074–4088 (2013) Cover of Journal and Featured Article

Schulz, S., Iglesias-Cans, M., Krah, A., Yildiz, O., Leone, V., Matthies, D., Cook, G.M., Faraldo-Gómez, J.D.* and Meier, T.* A new type of Na+-driven ATP synthase membrane rotor with a two-carboxylate ion-coupling motif. PLoS Biology 11:e1001596 (2013)

Berney, M.* and Cook, G.M.* Respiration and Oxidative Phosphorylation in Mycobacteria. In Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration volume 29. Springer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands ISSN 1572-0233 (2013)

Shaaly, A., Kalamorz, F., Gebhard, S. and Cook, G.M.* Undecaprenyl pyrophosphate phosphatase confers low-level resistance to bacitracin in Enterococcus faecalis. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy doi: 10.1093/jac/dkt048 (2013)

Cook, G.M.*, Robson, J.R., Frampton, R.A., McKenzie, J., Przybilski, R., Fineran, P.C.* and Arcus, V.L.* Ribonucleases in bacterial toxin-antitoxin systems. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta- Gene Regulatory Mechanisms 1829:523–531 (2013)

Wilson, J.L., Jesse, H.E., Hughes, B., Lund, V., Naylor, K., Davidge, K.S., Cook, G.M., Mann, B.E. and Poole, R.K.* Ru(CO)3Cl(glycinate) (CORM-3): a CO-releasing molecule with broad-spectrum antimicrobial and photosensitive activities against respiration and cation transport in Escherichia coli. Antioxidants and Redox Signaling Nov 27. [Epub ahead of print] (2013)

Arcus, V.L.* and Cook, G.M. Type II Toxin-Antitoxins: Structural and Functional Aspects of Type II Loci in Mycobacteria. In Prokaryotic Toxin-Antitoxins, Gerdes, K (Ed) Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg (2013) ISBN 978-3-642-33252-4.

Previous group members 

Postdoctoral or Research Fellows

Dr Ildiko Pecsi, 2012-2016

Dr Jennifer Robson, 2010-2014

Dr Michael Berney, 2007-2012

Dr Naohiro Taniguichi, 2009-2012

Dr Falk Kalamorz, 2009-2011

Dr Jonathan Gauntlett, 2008

Dr Duncan McMillan, 2008-2009

Dr Scott Ferguson, 2007-2008

Dr Susanne Gebhard, 2006 – 2009

Dr Sunil Ratnayake, 2003

Dr Stefanie Keis, 2001 – 2008

Sieu Tran, 2000-2007

PhD students

Michael Petridis, 2012-2015

Elyse Dunn, 2012-2015

Chris Greening, 2010-2014 

Marina Iglesias Cans, 2010-2014

Htin Lin Aung, 2010-2013

Aishath Shaaly, 2006-2013

Nandula Ekanayaka, 2008-2013

Rebekah Frampton, 2008-2011

Jennifer Robson, 2005-2010

Anja Humpel, 2005-2010

Sui Mae Lee, 2004-2009

Pearl Swe, 2004-2008

Duncan McMillan, 2004-2008

Jonathan Gauntlett, 2004-2008

Rebecca McDougal, 2003-2007

Scott Ferguson, 2003-2007

Susanne Gebhard, 2003-2006

Matthew James Shirley, 1999-2006

Rajan Prasad Adhikari, 2000-2004

Karen Olsson, 2001-2004

Janet Manson, 2000-2004

MSc students

Lisa Shaw, 2008-2010
Marion R. Weimar, 2009
Faith Cox, 2004-2006
Pearl Swe, 2001-2003
Cameron Simmers, 2001-2003
Ian Monk, 2001-2003
Richard Udy, 1999-2001
Connor Wright, 2000-2002
Rebecca McDougal, 2000-2002
Craig Anderson, 1999-2001
Katherine A. Young 1998-2000
Kere R. Kobayashi, 1998-1999

Lab photo (2014)

The Cook Lab 2014