Dr Ronan O'Toole

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Principal Academic Staff Member and Research Lead

Contact info

+64 7 834 8800 extension 3571


  • BA (mod)
  • PhD

Academic, industry experience and affiliations


    Trinity College Dublin; Imperial College London; Victoria University of Wellington; University of Tasmania; La Trobe University.


    Saint James’s Hospital, Dublin; Royal Hobart Hospital; Launceston General Hospital; Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney; Auckland City Hospital; Waikato Hospital.

    Pathology Laboratories

    Hobart Pathology; Pathlab Waikato.

    Government Departments

    Health Protection Surveillance Centre, Health Service Executive, Ireland; Department of Health and Human Services, Tasmania, Australia.

    Areas of expertise

    • Biomedical & Health Sciences
    • Infection & Immunity
    • Chronic & Communicable Respiratory Illnesses
    • Next-Generation Sequencing & Whole Genome Bioinformatics
    • Public Health Surveillance & Molecular Epidemiology
    • Healthcare-Associated Infections & Antibiotic Resistance
    • Drug Discovery & Development

    Research interests

    • Pathogenomics
    • Medical Laboratory Diagnostics
    • Antibiotic Stewardship
    • Infection Control


    Book chapters

    • O’Toole R* (2010). Experimental models used to study human tuberculosis. In Advances in Applied Microbiology (Elsevier) 71: 75-89.
    • O’Toole RF* (2019). Tuberculosis as an underlying etiological factor for other human respiratory diseases. In Mycobacterium Tuberculosis: Molecular Infection Biology, Pathogenesis, Diagnostics and New Interventions (Springer Nature) pp 17-26.
    • O’Toole RF* (2019). Tuberculosis in New Zealand: Historical Overview to Modern Epidemiology. In Mycobacterium Tuberculosis: Molecular Infection Biology, Pathogenesis, Diagnostics and New Interventions (Springer Nature) pp 87-99.
    • Shukla SD, Shastri MD, O’Toole RF, Hansbro PM* (2020). Infection-induced oxidative stress in the lung. In Role of oxidative stress in pathophysiology of disease (Springer Nature) (in press).

    Journal articles

    • Leong KC, Kalukottege R, Cooley LA, Anderson TL, Wells A, Langford E, O’Toole RF* (2020). State-wide genomic and epidemiological analyses of vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium in Tasmania’s public hospitals. Frontiers in Microbiology (in press).
    • Gautam SS, Leong KWC, Pradhan M, Singh YI, Rajbhandari SK, Ghimire GR, Adhikari K, Shrestha U, Chaudhary R, Ghimire G, Khadka S, O’Toole RF* (2020). Draft genome of an isolate of Extensively-Drug Resistant (XDR) Mycobacterium tuberculosis from Nepal. Microbiology Resource Announcements (in press).
    • Shukla SD, Walters EH, Simpson JL, Keely S, Wark PA, O’Toole RF, Hansbro PM* (2020). Blocking hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α mediated, PAFR-dependent bacterial infections in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Respirology 25: 53-63.
    • Brown P, RELISH Consortium, Zhou Y* (2019). Large expert-curated database for benchmarking document similarity detection in biomedical literature search. Database: The Journal of Biological Databases and Curation 1-66. 
    • Mulholland CV, Shockey A, Aung HL, Cursons RT, O’Toole RF, Gautam SS, Brites D, Gagneux S, Roberts SA, Karalus N, Cook GM, Pepperell CS, Arcus VL* (2019). Dispersal of Mycobacterium tuberculosis to indigenous populations driven by historical European trade in the South Pacific. Frontiers in Microbiology 10:2778.
    • Yen S, Preissner M, Bennett E, Dubsky S, Carnibella R, O’Toole RF, Roddam L, Jones H, Dargaville P, Fouras A, Zosky GR* (2019). The impact of mechanical ventilation on regional tidal volume and its association with regional lung injury. American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology 60(5): 569-577.
    • Gautam SS, Haug G, Cooley LA, Mac Aogáin M, O’Toole RF* (2019). Intercontinental translocation of latent multi-drug resistant tuberculosis to Australia demonstrated by whole genome sequencing. Medical Journal of Australia 210 (5): 236. 
    • Gautam SS, KC R, Leong KWC, Mac Aogáin M, O’Toole RF* (2019). A Step-by-Step Beginner’s Protocol for Whole Genome Sequencing of Human Bacterial Pathogens. Journal of Biological Methods 6(1): e110.
    • KC R, Shukla SD, Gautam SS, Hansbro PM, O’Toole RF* (2018). The role of environmental exposure to non-cigarette smoke in lung disease. Clinical and Translational Medicine 7:39. 
    • Shastri MD, Shukla SD, Chong W, Dua K, Peterson GM, Patel R, Hansbro P, Eri R, O’Toole RF* (2018). Role of Oxidative Stress in the Pathology and Management of Human Tuberculosis. Oxidative Stress and Cellular Longevity 7695364: 1-10.
    • O’Toole RF* (2018). Development of a new genome-wide MLST scheme for high-resolution typing of diverse Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex strains. EBioMedicine 34: 6-7.
    • KC R, Zosky GR, Shukla SD, O’Toole RF* (2018). A cost-effective technique for generating preservable biomass smoke extract and measuring its effect on cell receptor expression in human bronchial epithelial cells. Biology Methods and Protocols 3(1): 1-9. 
    • Leong KC, Cooley LA, Anderson TL, Gautam SS, McEwan B, Wells A, Wilson F, Hughson L, O’Toole RF* (2018). Emergence of Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococcus faecium at an Australian Hospital: A Whole Genome Sequencing Analysis. Scientific Reports s41598-018-24614-6.
    • O’Toole RF*, Gautam SS (2018). The host microbiome and impact of tuberculosis chemotherapy. Tuberculosis 113: 26-29.
    • Hyland I, O'Toole RF, Smith J, Bissember AC* (2018). Progress in the Development of Platelet-Activating Factor Receptor (PAFr) Antagonists and Applications in the Treatment of Inflammatory Diseases. ChemMedChem 13: 1-13.
    • Leong KC, Cooley LA, O’Toole RF* (2018). Draft Genome Sequence of New Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococcus faecium Sequence Type 1421. Genome Announcements 6(20): e00438-18.
    • Gautam SS, Mac Aogáin M, Cooley LA, Haug G, Fyfe JA, Globan M, O’Toole RF* (2018). Molecular Epidemiology of Tuberculosis in Tasmania and Genomic Characterisation of its First Known Multi-Drug Resistant Case. PLOS ONE Feb 21;13(2): e0192351.
    • Roycroft E*, O'Toole RF, Fitzgibbon MM, Montgomery L, O'Meara M, Downes P, Jackson S, O'Donnell J, Laurenson IF, McLaughlin AM, Keane J, Rogers TR (2018). Molecular Epidemiology of Multi- and Extensively-Drug-Resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis in Ireland, 2001-2014. Journal of Infection 76(1): 55-67.
    • O’Toole RF* (2017). Establishing the critical role of peripheral blood vessel colonisation by Neisseria meningitidis in invasive meningococcal disease. Virulence 8(8): 1513-1515.
    • Gautam SS, Mac Aogáin M, O’Toole RF* (2017). Draft genome sequence of the first confirmed isolate of Multi-Drug Resistant (MDR) Mycobacterium tuberculosis in Tasmania. Genome Announcements 5(44): e01230-17.
    • O’Toole RF*, Gautam SS (2017). Limitations of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis reference genome H37Rv in the detection of virulence-related loci. Genomics 109 (5-6): 471-474.
    • Gautam SS, Mac Aogáin M, Bower JE, Basu I, O’Toole RF* (2017). Differential carriage of virulence-associated loci in the Rangipo outbreak strain of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Infectious Diseases 49(9): 680-688.
    • KC R, Shukla SD, Walter EH, O’Toole RF* (2017). Temporal upregulation of host surface receptors provides a window of opportunity for bacterial adhesion and disease. Microbiology 163(4): 421-430.
    • O’Toole RF*, Shukla SD, Walters EH (2016). Does upregulated epithelial cell receptor expression provide a link between bacterial adhesion & chronic respiratory disease? Journal of Translational Medicine 14(1): 1-4. 
    • Hanway A, Tobin K, Comiskey CM, O’Toole RF* (2016). Relating annual migration from high tuberculosis burden country of origin to changes in foreign-born tuberculosis notification rates in low-medium incidence European countries. Tuberculosis 101: 67-74.
    • Shukla SD, Fairbairn RL, Gell DA, Latham RD, Sohal SS, Walters EH, O’Toole RF* (2016). An antagonist of the Platelet-Activating Factor receptor inhibits adherence of both non-typeable Haemophilus influenzae and Streptococcus pneumoniae to cultured human bronchial epithelial cells exposed to cigarette smoke. International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 11(1): 1647-1655.
    • Gautam SS, O’Toole RF* (2016). Convergence in the epidemiology and pathogenesis of COPD and pneumonia. COPD: Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 13(6): 790-798.
    • Mac Aogáin M, Gautam SS, Bower JE, Basu I, O’Toole RF* (2016). Draft genome sequence of a New Zealand ‘Rangipo’ strain of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Genome Announcements 4(4): e00657-16.
    • Gautam SS, O’Toole RF* (2016). Bacterial Lung Disease and COPD. Journal of Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine 6(2): 1-5.
    • O’Toole RF*, Jackson S, Hanway A, O’Donnell J, Comiskey CM, Rogers TR, O’Flanagan D (2015). Tuberculosis incidence in the Irish Traveller population in Ireland from 2002-2013. Epidemiology and Infection 143(13): 2849-2855. 
    • Shukla SD, Sohal SS, O’Toole RF, Eapen MS, Walters EH* (2015). PAFr: Gateway for bacterial chronic airway infection in COPD patients & potential therapeutic target. Expert Rev of Respiratory Medicine 9(4): 473-485.
    • Mac Aogáin M, Bower JE, Basu I, Freeman JT, O’Toole RF* (2015). Draft genome sequence of a Drug Susceptible New Zealand isolate of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Lineage 3. Genome Announcements 3(3): e00499-15.
    • Campen RL, Ackerley DF, Cook GM, O’Toole RF* (2015). Development of a Mycobacterium smegmatis transposon mutant array for characterising the mechanism of action of tuberculosis drugs: findings with isoniazid. Tuberculosis 95(4): 432-439.
    • O’Toole RF*, Shukla SD, Walters EH (2015). TB meets COPD: An emerging global co-morbidity in human lung disease. Tuberculosis 95(6): 659-663.
    • Hasnain SE*, O’Toole RF, Grover S, Ehtesham NZ (2015). Whole genome sequencing: a new paradigm in the surveillance and control of human tuberculosis. Tuberculosis 95(2): 91-94.
    • Mac Aogáin M, Johari BM, Bower JE, O’Toole RF* (2014). Draft genome sequence of a Multi-Drug Resistant (MDR) New Zealand isolate of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Lineage 3. Genome Announcements 2(5): e01017-14.
    • Roycroft E*, Mac Aogáin M, O'Toole RF, Fitzgibbon M, Rogers TR (2014). Draft genome sequence of the first isolate of Extensively Drug-Resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis in Ireland. Genome Announcements 2(5): e01002-14.
    • Dasyam N, Munkacsi A, Fadzilah NH, Senanayake DS, O’Toole RF, Keyzers RA* (2014). Identification and Bioactivity of 3-Epi-Xestoaminol C Isolated from the New Zealand Brown Alga Xiphophora chondrophylla. Journal of Natural Products 77(6): 1519–1523.
    • O’Toole RF*, Johari BM, Mac Aogáin M, Rogers TR, Bower JE, Basu I, Freeman JT (2014). Draft genome sequence of the first isolate of Extensively-Drug Resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis in New Zealand. Genome Announcements 2(3): e00319-14.
    • O’Toole RF*, Freeman JT (2013). Molecular epidemiology of human tuberculosis in New Zealand and potential insights for disease control. New Zealand Medical Journal 126(1373): 1-3.
    • Yen S, Bower JE, Freeman JT, Basu I, O’Toole RF* (2013). Phylogenetic lineages of tuberculosis isolates in New Zealand and their association with patient demographics. International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease 17(7): 892-897.
    • Bassett IM, Lun S, Bishai WR, Guo H, Kirman JR, Altaf M, O’Toole RF* (2013). Detection of inhibitors of phenotypically drug-tolerant Mycobacterium tuberculosis using an in vitro bactericidal screen. Journal of Microbiology 51(5): 651-658.
    • Maas EW, Simpson AM, Martin A, Thompson S, Koh EY, Davy SK, Ryan KG, O'Toole RF* (2012). Phylogenetic analyses of bacteria in sea-ice at Cape Hallett, Antarctica. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 46(1): 3-12, + Front Cover.
    • Koh EY*, Cowie ROM, Simpson AM, O'Toole R, Ryan KG (2012). The origin of cyanobacteria in Antarctic sea ice: marine or freshwater? Environmental Microbiology Reports: 4(5): 479-483.
    • Miller CH, O'Toole RF* (2011). Navigating tuberculosis drug discovery with target-based screening. Expert Opinion on Drug Discovery 6(8): 839-854.
    • Dogra M, Palmer BD, Bashiri G, Tingle MD, Shinde S, Anderson RF, O’Toole R, Baker EN, Denny WA, Helsby NA* (2011). Comparative bioactivation of the novel anti-Tuberculosis agent PA-824 in Mycobacteria and human liver S9. British Journal of Pharmacology 162(1): 226-236.
    • Finlayson R, Brackovic A, Simon-Levert A, Banaigs B, O'Toole RF, Miller CH, Copp BR* (2011). Establishment of the absolute configuration of the bioactive marine alkaloid eudistomin X by stereospecific synthesis. Tetrahedron Letters 52: 837-840.
    • Altaf M, Miller CH, Bellows DS, O’Toole R* (2010). Evaluation of the Mycobacterium smegmatis and BCG models for the discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis inhibitors. Tuberculosis 90(6): 333-337.
    • Nisa S, Blokpoel MCJ, Robertson BD, Tyndall JDA, Lun S, Bishai WR, O’Toole R* (2010). Targeting the chromosome partitioning protein ParA in tuberculosis drug discovery. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 65(11): 2347-2358.
    • Earl EA, Altaf M, Murikoli RV, Swift S, O’Toole R* (2010). Native New Zealand plants with inhibitory activity towards Mycobacterium tuberculosis. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 10: 25.
    • Oehlers SH, Flores MV, Hall CJ, O'Toole R, Swift S, Crosier KE, Crosier PS* (2010). Expression of zebrafish cxcl8 (interleukin-8) and its receptors during development and in response to immune stimulation. Developmental and Comparative Immunology 34(3): 352-359.
    • Lawrence SA, O’Toole R, Taylor MW, Davy SK* (2010). Sub-cuticular bacteria associated with two common New Zealand Echinoderms: Characterization using 16S rRNA and Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization. Biological Bulletin 218(1): 95-104.
    • Miller CH, Nisa S, Dempsey S, Jack C, O’Toole R* (2009). Modifying culture conditions in chemical library screening identifies alternative inhibitors of mycobacteria. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 53(12): 5279-5283.
    • O’Toole R, Kirman JR* (2008). TbNZ Meeting: a new barometer for tuberculosis research in New Zealand. New Zealand Science Review 65(4): 70-73.
    • Martin A*, Hall JA, O’Toole R, Davy SK, Ryan KG (2008). High single-cell metabolic activity in Antarctic sea ice bacteria. Aquatic Microbial Ecology 52(1): 25-31.
    • Childs AM*, Mountain BW, O’Toole R, Stott MB (2008). Relating Microbial Community and Physicochemical Parameters of a Hot Spring: Champagne Pool, Wai-o-tapu, New Zealand. Geomicrobiology Journal 25(7&8): 441-453. 
    • Cashin P, Goldsack L, Hall D, O’Toole R* (2006). Contrasting signal transduction mechanisms in bacterial and eukaryotic gene transcription. FEMS Microbiology Letters 261(2): 155-164.
    • Zlosnik JEA, Tavankar GR, Bundy JG, Mossialos D, O’Toole R, Williams HD* (2006). Investigation of the physiological relationship between the cyanide insensitive oxidase and cyanide production in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Microbiology 152(5): 1407-1415. 
    • Ryan KG*, Hegseth E, Martin A, Davy, S, O’Toole R, Ralph PJ, McMinn A, Thorn C (2006). Comparison of the microalgal community within fast ice at two sites along Ross Sea coast, Antarctica. Antarctic Science 18(4): 583-594.
    • Blokpoel MCJ, Murphy HN, O’Toole R, Wiles S, Runn ESC, Stewart GR, Young DB, Robertson BD* (2005). Tetracycline-inducible gene regulation in mycobacteria. Nucleic Acids Research 33(2): e22. 
    • O’Toole R*, von Hofsten J, Rosqvist R, Olsson P-E, Wolf-Watz H (2004). Visualisation of zebrafish infection by GFP-labelled Vibrio anguillarum. Microbial Pathogenesis 37(1): 41-46.
    • O’Toole R*, Williams HD (2003). Universal stress proteins and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Research in Microbiology 154(6): 387-392.
    • Blokpoel MCJ, O’Toole R, Smeulders MJ, Williams HD* (2003). Development and application of unstable GFP variants to kinetic studies of mycobacterial gene expression. Journal of Microbiological Methods 54(2): 203-211.
    • O’Toole R, Smeulders MJ, Blokpoel MCJ, Kay EJ, Lougheed K, Williams HD* (2003). A two-component regulator of universal stress protein expression and adaptation to oxygen starvation in Mycobacterium smegmatis. Journal of Bacteriology 185(5): 1543-1554.
    • Ormonde P, Hörstedt P, O’Toole R, Milton DL* (2000). Role of motility in adherence and invasion of a fish cell line by Vibrio anguillarum. Journal of Bacteriology 182(8): 2326-2328.
    • O’Toole R*, Lundberg S, Fredriksson S-Å, Jonsson A, Nilsson B, Wolf-Watz H (1999). The chemotactic response of Vibrio anguillarum to fish intestinal mucus is mediated by a combination of multiple mucus components. Journal of Bacteriology 181(14): 4308-4317.
    • O’Toole R*, Milton DL, Hörstedt P, Wolf-Watz H (1997). RpoN of the fish pathogen Vibrio anguillarum is essential for flagellum production and virulence by the water-borne but not intraperitoneal route of inoculation. Microbiology 143(12): 3849-3859.
    • Milton DL*, O’Toole R, Hörstedt P, Wolf-Watz H (1996). Flagellin A is essential for the virulence of Vibrio anguillarum. Journal of Bacteriology 178(5): 1310-1319.
    • O’Toole R, Milton DL, Wolf-Watz H* (1996). Chemotactic motility is required for invasion of the host by the fish pathogen Vibrio anguillarum. Molecular Microbiology 19(3): 625-637.




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