Profile – Ray Dixon

, , ,


Ray Dixon

Job Title:

Project Leader

Work Address:

Department of Molecular Microbiology, John Innes Centre, Norwich Research Park, Norwich NR4 7UH, UK


Phone Number:



While working as a PhD student at the University of Sussex, UK  in 1972, I  successfully transferred the complete cluster of nitrogen fixation (nif) genes from Klebsiella pneumoniae to Escherichia coli , thus creating the first engineered diazotroph. Our subsequent analysis revealed that the genetic organisation of the nif region was far more complex than originally envisaged and we now know that 20 genes are required for the synthesis and activity of nitrogenase in K. pneumoniae.  I was appointed as a Scientific Officer at the Unit of Nitrogen Fixation at Sussex in 1975 and continued to perform research on the genetics and regulation of nitrogen fixation until the Nitrogen Fixation Laboratory was disbanded in 1995. I then moved to the John Innes Centre (JIC) at Norwich, UK where I have pioneered studies on signal transduction and transcriptional regulation of nitrogen fixation. I am currently Director of a joint research centre established by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and JIC, known as the Centre of Excellence for Plant and Microbial Science, located across campuses in Norwich, Beijing and Shanghai.

Research Areas:

  • Nitrogen fixation
  • NO signalling
  • Nitrogen regulation

Current N-related Projects:


Oliveira, M. A. S., Aquino, B., Bonatto, A. C., Huergo, L. F., Chubatsu, L. S., Pedrosa, F. O., Souza, E. M., Dixon, R. & Monteiro, R. A. (2012). Interaction of GlnK with the GAF domain of Herbaspirillum seropedicae NifA mediates NH4+-regulation. Biochimie 94, 1041-1047

Dos Santos, P., Fang, Z., Mason, S., Setubal, J. and Dixon, R., (2012) Distribution of nitrogen fixation and nitrogenase-like sequences amongst microbial genomes. BMC Genomics 13: 162.

Bush, M. and Dixon, R., (2012) The Role of Bacterial Enhancer Binding Proteins as Specialized Activators of σ54-Dependent Transcription. Microbiol Mol Biol Rev 76: 497-529.

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 Genet 9: e1003865.

Wang, X., Yang, J.-G., Chen, L., Wang, J.-L., Cheng, Q., Dixon, R. and Wang, Y.-P., (2013) Using Synthetic Biology to Distinguish and Overcome Regulatory and Functional Barriers Related to Nitrogen Fixation. PLoS ONE 8: e68677.

Oldroyd, G. E. D. and Dixon, R., (2014) Biotechnological solutions to the nitrogen problem. Curr Opin Biotechnol 26: 19-24.

Espinosa, J., Rodriguez-Mateos, F., Salinas, P., Lanza, V. F., Dixon, R., de la Cruz, F. and Contreras, A., (2014) PipX, the coactivator of NtcA, is a global regulator in cyanobacteria. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 111: E2423-2430

Yang, J., Xie, X., Wang, X., Dixon, R∗. and Wang, Y. P., (2014) Reconstruction and minimal gene requirements for the alternative iron-only nitrogenase in Escherichia coli. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 111: E3718–E3725

Balsanelli, E., Tadra-Sfeir, M. Z., Faoro, H., Pankievicz, V. C., de Baura, V. A., Pedrosa, F. O., de Souza, E. M., Dixon, R. and Monteiro, R. A., (2015) Molecular adaptations of Herbaspirillum seropedicae during colonization of the maize rhizosphere. Environ Microbiol: doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.12887.

Huergo, L. F. & Dixon, R. (2015). The Emergence of 2-Oxoglutarate as a Master Regulator Metabolite. Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews 79, 419-435.

Fox, A. R., Soto, G., Valverde, C., Russo, D., Lagares, A., Zorreguieta, Á., 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. Environ Microbiol doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.13376.

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.