The ACGT database is a compilation of biosciences research skills, techniques and specialised equipment of scientists at the University of Witwatersrand, University of Pretoria, CSIR, University of Johannesburg and the Agricultural Research Council. ACGT is instrumental in creating an awareness of the regional research activities and programmes. It was created to stimulate coordination of research efforts between the partner institutions and provide a platform for future collaborations.

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Research Programme Name Research Programme Description Research Field Responsible Person
HIV Pathogenesis Research Lab HIV-1 subtype C pathogenesis research that is directly applicable to novel drug, vaccine and envelope immunogen design.Research involves HIV genotyping (including drug resistance monitoring) and phenotyping. Structure and function analysis of accessory proteins. Phenotypic assays to monitor drugs or drug inhibition and neutralizing antibodies. HIV Capovilla, Alexio
Papathanasopolous, Maria
Atkinson, Thomas
Oncology/ Haematology lab Research entails the study of Colorectal cancer in young, black South Africans. Stem cells are being used as model systems for cell differentiation. Cancer Penny, Clement
Molecular Mycobateriology Research Unit Research focus is in microbial genetics, mycobateriology and molecular biology. Making gene knockouts, Characterizations of mutants, Drug discovery, DNA repair, Resuscitation promoting factors, Drug killing between wild type and mutants, looking for other useful drugs for TB. TB Gordhan, Bhavna
Department of Chemical Pathology Research areas are in Genetics, molecular biology and plant molecular biology. Focussing on Obesity and polycystic ovary syndrome in diabetes. Diabetes van Niekerk, Chantal
Molecular Mycobateriology Research Unit Research is on DNA metabolisis in mycobacteria and the role of co-factors in pathogenesis part vitamin B12, Fitness cost of drug resistance and looking at natural products as a source of antibiotics. TB
Department of Surgery Biochemistry, Amino acid metabolism and enzyme kinetics: Focussing on Metabolomics of cardiovascular and surgical conditions, Cytokines and inflammatory markers, Wound healing and Cancer. Cardiovascular Candy, Geoffrey
Research Diagnostics Group Currently the group has three major thrusts: The development of a single diagnostic platform for Leukaemia with microarrays, The development of a point of care HIV viral load system and Novel TB detection and quantification methods. The microarray project involves the use of Affymetrix GeneChip technology to classify leukaemia samples. Presently, the intention is to develop a classification system using novel techniques for determining sample relatedness. HIV, TB. HIV Scott, Lesley
Antiviral Gene Therapy Research Unit Research involves developing combinatorial RNAi expression systems, Primary mRNA mimics, Fast cleaving ribozymes, Transcriptional gene silencing (TGS), HIV host-pathogen gene detection using genome wide screens, Allele-specific silencing using RNAi, Developing long hairpin RNA for plant and mammalian viruses, Inhibiting Rift Valley Fever Virus using RNA interference, The role of short RNAs in regulating gene expression and the role in gene therapy of viral diseases by using Antiviral therapeutic strategies based on Zinc-Finger Proteins, Fast Ribozymes and Aptamers. Rift Valley Fever Weinberg, Marco
Department of Chemical Pathology Research is on Cardiovascular development and progression of atherosclerosis, Role of insulin resistance in diabetes and cardiovascular disease, HIV metabolic related diseases (role of). Cardiovascular Naran, Nitien
Somatic Cell Genetics Identification of markers for early detection of disease and prognostic indicators in cancers. Cancer Willem, Pascale
Antiviral Gene Therapy Research Unit Hepatitis B Virus epidemiology, molecular biology, and hepatocarcinoma; HIV-1, RNAi for therapeutic application. Persistent infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a major global medical problem. To improve insights required to advance management of HBV carriers, research work has focused on two aspects of the molecular biology of HBV infection. These are: 1. Developing nucleic acid-based therapy for HBV infection, and 2. Understanding the role of HBV X protein (HBx) in causing HCC. HBV Arbuthnot, Patrick
Brain Function Research Group Studying neuropathic pain in HIV positive individuals. Neuropathology / Neurophysiology Kamerman, Peter
Department of Internal Medicine Current research is on the role of Epithelial Mesenchymal Transition in breast cancer and development; Determining the regulatory mechanisms governing alternative splicing of the FGFR2 gene in cancer. Cancer Duarte, Raquel
Malaria Research Group Malaria - iron metabolism, novel antimalarial agents. Cell cycle regulation and sexual cycle differentiation in malaria. Traditional medicines with antimicrobial activity. Malaria van Zyl, Robyn
Immunohaematology, Flow cytometry Unit Research are in the following areas: Molecular cell biology and biochemistry. Immunology, cancer, PNH, CD40L, HLA typing, Flow cross matching, Transplantation. Cancer Worsley, Catherine
Antiviral Gene Therapy Research Unit Working on exploiting RNA interference for therapy. Biochemistry, molecular and cell biology, virology, specifically Gene therapy. HBV Ely, Abdullah
Department of Molecular Medicine and Haematology Research is on HIV treatment, resistance and epidemiology. HIV Stevens, Wendy
Department of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases Research involves infection prevention and control, molecular epidemiology and outbreak responses, food and water microbiology, R and D in novel diagnostic techniques for infectious diseases. Microbiology and Biotechnology Duse, Adriano
Embryonic Development and Differentiation Research Programme Embryology and Developmental biology, cell biology: Development of tooth, wound healing. Cell biology Kramer, Beverley
Cardiovascular Pathophysiology and Genomics Research Unit Largest study in Africa looking at causes of genetic risk factors in the development of cardiovascular disease in nuclear families. Have started genotyping with respect to candidate genes but not genome wide scans. Looking at the development of novel therapeutic approaches to hypertension and heart failure. Cardiovascular Norton, Gavin
Human Genomic Diversity and Disease Research Unit Research involves reconstructing human history and evolution by adopting a molecular genetic approach. Genetics Soodyall, Himla
Division of Virology and Communicable Diseases Surveillance Unit Researh involves HIV vaccine development, neutralizing antibodies and HIV drug resistance. HIV Morris, Lynn
Bara Reumatology Research group Studying the role of genetic factors in the predisposition to systemic rheumatic diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, Systemic lupus erythematosus scleroderma. Rheumatoid arthritis Tikly, Mohammed
Red Cell Membrane Unit Looking at Red cell membrane disorders, Plasmodium falciparum. The biology of the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum. Telomere dynamics in chronic myeloid leukaemia. Malaria Coetzer, Theresa
Department of Anatomical Sciences Looking at the evaluation of cytokines, integrins and extracellular matrix proteins in wound healing. Cell biology Daly, Thomas
Hepatitis Virus Diversity Research Programme Molecular virology, genome characterization of HBV strains, determine whether there are mutations or variations in the isolates from Africans with and without disease which may contribute to disease progression. Comparative analysis of hepatitis virus strains from various geographic regions of the world origin, transmission and pathogenesis of viral-induced disease of hepadnaviral sequence variation, its functional characterization and role in disease progression HBV Kramvis, Anna
Structural Chemistry Group Current focus is on molecular/ metal organic materials which show solid-state reactivity, or which show interesting electronic, optical or magnetic properties included in these phase changes which often lead to a material undergoing a different solid state reaction, depending on crystal phase, or possessing different electronic or optical properties. Phase changes have even been defined as chemical reactions in themselves, resulting in interesting structure property relationships. Chemistry Fernandes, Manuel
Protein Structure-Function Research Unit Working on the Structure and functional properties of the glutathione transferase family of proteins, Current project: Stopped flow kinetics (protein folding kinetics). HIV
School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences Looking at Plant systematics: Biodiversity of the African Flora - Interested in the evolutionary relationships of plants, especially in the Asteraceae, and in the biogeographic patterns resulting from changes over time. Currently working on specific questions relating to other genera in the Senecioneae, viz. Emilia, Kleinia, Senecio, as well as the Strelitziaceae. Plant biosciences Cron, Glynis
Protein Structure-Function Research Unit Researching the structural and thermodynamic basis of binding of protease inhibitors to the South African HIV-1 subtype C protease. Characterisation of the binding of non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors to reverse transcriptase from various HIV-1 subtypes. Biological thermodynamics. X-ray crystallography. HIV Sayed, Yasien
Department of Chemistry Current research interests are on Organic synthesis in medicinal chemistry and Ligand design by molecular modelling. Chemistry Pelly, Stephen
Protein Structure-Function Research Unit Focussing on Protein Biochemistry specifically Protein folding, Protein purification (chromatography), Protein characterisation (spectroscopy, electrophoresis), Protein Crystallography and Membrane physics. HIV Fanucchi, Sylvia
School of Molecular and Cell Biology Research area is on the mechanisms of drug resistance in Mycobacteria and related organisms. Bioremediation. Genetics
Microbial Genetics Research Group Area of research is in Microbial Genetics and Environmental Sciences. Looking at the isolation of rubber degrading micro organisms, Characterisation of rubber degrading genes and the Development of bacteria vectors. Microbiology and Biotechnology
Organo-metallic Research Group Research areas are in Synthetic Chemistry, NMR Spectroscopy: Looking at the Synthesis and NMR of Transition. Chemistry Mampa, Richard
Molecular Sciences Institute (Organic Synthesis) Looking at Synthetic routes to aromatic and heteroaromatic systems, and applications to aromatic natural products. Invention of new methods for constructing and functionalising condensed aromatic, biaryl and polyaryl systems. Application of the methodology to the synthesis of selected natural product targets. Chemistry de Koning, Charles
Mycorrhizas and Fungal Plant Pathogens Looking at the use of Abascular Mycorrhiza in the rehabilitation of mine tailings, The biochemistry and molecular Genetics of resistance mechanisms in avocado in response top fungal infection, Biological Control of Plant pathogens. Plant biosciences Straker, Colin
Molecular Genetics Lab Looking at the molecular understanding of complex non-communicable diseases. In particular the genetic and epigenetic predisposition factors. The diseases currently worked on are fetal alcohol syndrome, obesity and future topics may include cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The use of bioinformatics and biostatistics are used in the analysis of the data. Genetics Ramsay, Michele
Molecular Biosciences Research Group Analysis of the linker and signalling proteins of the Wnt and ILK pathways of human oesophageal SCC cells (a readily metastasising tumour), with a view to understanding not only the development but also the dissemination of this disease. Cancer Veale, Rob
AIDS Research Initiative Research focus is on variation in human genes that interact with HIV and The molecular evolution and reconstruction of the ancestral sequence of myrosinase and plant population structure (with collaborators). HIV
Microbiology and Genetics Nuclear architecture and long range chromatin interactions HIV Shibayama, Youtaro
Invertebrate Pathology and Control Laboratory Doing research on Baculovirus biopesticides and polydnavirus facilitated immunosuppression. Bacillus thuringiensis research includes the use of endotoxin-expressing endophytes as pest control agents. Target pests include the sugarcane borer (Eldana saccharina) and the bollworm (Helicoverpa armigera), Baculoviruses broad characterization of virulence and biodiversity, Mosquito control using recombinant baculovirus as strategy, Environmental effects of biopesticides linked to biodiversity, Genetic modification strategies related to all develop efficacy, Also does risk assessments for genetically modified organisms for the Department of Agriculture. Animal biotechnology Bouwer, Gustav
"The Fly Lab" Research focus is on Cancer and; Innate Immunity and Bioprospecting. Investigating the role played by a novel family of proteins that is characterised by a highly conserved N-terminal domain whose function is not yet defined. Studying the signalling pathways controlling the immune response of the Drosophila and also searching for new antimicrobial peptides. Cancer Ntwasa, Monde
The Cassava Biotech Programme Current research is on improving cassava germplasm resistance to the Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD), Developing cassava for the Southern African region in partnership with Mozambique, Plant virus phylogeny, Virus identification and diagnosis, Host-virus interactions. Plant biosciences Rey, Chrissie
Cryobiololgy Unit Research is on Ex situ conservation of plant germ plasm and In vitro storage methods for plants that are presently difficult to store by conventional means (e.g. vegetatively propagated crops and species that produce recalcitrant seeds). The two fields being looked at are the: Development of in vitro micropropagatory techniques for selected crop, forestry and indigenous species; Development of storage techniques (in particular cryostorage i.e. storage at -196 oC) for the selected plant species. Plant biosciences Mycock, David
Phycology Laboratory Research areas are in Microalgae, marine microalgae, phycology, systematics, evolution. Sytematics of marine microalgae, Productivity of marine culture, Looking at the monitoring of alien algae, Application to spread of disease (cholera), Toxic outbreaks. Plant biosciences Sym, Stuart
Molecular Biology Recombinant DNA: Research involves the transferring of genes from plants to yeast. Molecular marker: for molecular classification. Genetics Moganedi, Kgabo
Legume improvement Looking at Stress tolerance in legumes- Drought tolerance in soybean. Plant biosciences Mokwala, Phatlane
Chemical pathology Interaction between genetic and environmental factors: apoE Polymorphism and lipid levels, apoE polymorphism and inflammatory markers, apoE polymorphism and oral fat tolerance, GNB-3 Mutations in hypertension. Cell biology Choma, Solomon
Medicinal Plant Research Group Looking at Gene expression of apoptotic genes in cancer cells treated with different medicinal plant extracts. Anti-inflammatory agents from indigenous medicinal plants. The use of medicinal plant products in the treatment of cancer. Cancer Tloti, Maphasa
Biochemistry Department Researching the effect of LiCl on porcine renal tubular cells and potential systemic lupus erythematosus autoantigen alterations. Using cell cultures to investigate cell growth effects of LiCl treatment on LLC-PK1 and PK(15) cells. Cell biology Lucas, Kirsten
Biodiversity Group Research focus is on fish health, water parasites and Water pollution in the Oliphants river and other rivers. Animal biotechnology Jooste, Antoinette
Fermentation and Enzyme Biotech Research Group Industrial enzyme production: Xylanase and cellulose production, Jathropha detoxification. Enzymology Abotsi, Emil
Chemical Pathology Looking at the interaction between genetic and environmental factors: apoE Polymorphism and lipid levels, apoE polymorphism and inflammatory markers, apoE polymorphism and oral fat tolerance, GNB-3 Mutations in hypertension. Cell biology Alberts, Marianne
Biotechnology Unit Lectin biochemistry and biotechnology, Heterologous expression of proteins for microbial strain improvement, Role of cystine proteases in legume nodule senescence, Industrial enzymes. Microbiology and Biotechnology Ncube, Ignatius
Medicinal Plant Research Group Gene expression of apoptotic genes in cancer cells treated with different medicinal plant extracts. Anti-inflammatory agents from indigenous medicinal plants. The use of medicinal plant products in the treatment of cancer. Cancer Mampuru, Leseilane
Biodiversity Group Factors affecting seed germination, effect of heavy metals on plants, anti-oxidative systems in plants, in vivo and in vitro propagation of indigenous plants. Plant biosciences Nikolova, Roumian
Microbial Molecular Biology Lectin biochemistry and biotechnology: Heterologous expression of proteins for microbial strain improvement, Biofuels, Medicinal plants. Microbiology and Biotechnology Howard, Rachmond
Chromatin Research Group Research explores the way in which epigenetic processes filter down to the level of chromatin structure and how chromatin structure influences gene regulation. Specifically interested in the O-GLcNAc modification of nuclear proteins and its effect of chromatin structure and gene regulation Genetics Koorsen, Gerrit
Pharmacology Research Group Research is on Malaria cell biology and drug discovery, drug bioassays. Malaria Hoppe, Heinrich
Systems Biology Malaria represents the groups primary disease area of interest, where research is underway to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying the efficacy of anti-malarial compounds, and to develop molecular approaches to validating candidate targets of interest. Malaria Mancama, Dalubuhle
Plant Biotechnology Group Expression of an HIV antigen in plants. Gene expression analysis of plants (qRT-PCR and microarray). miRNAs and their involvement in biotic and abiotic stress. Secondary metabolite biosynthesis in indigenous medicinal plants. Plant biosciences Crampton, Bridget
Discovery Chemistry TB: Kinase inhibitors, Malaria: Peroxidic antimalarials, folate antagonists, superior quinolines, natural products and derivatives, HIV: Non nucleosidic reverse transcriptase inhibitors, protease inhibitors Malaria Parkinson, Chris
Structural Biology Research is on the elucidation of novel enzyme reaction mechanisms in TB and malaria as potential drug targets. TB Kenyon, Colin
Enzyme Technologies Research Group Research involves Biocatalysis and applied enzyme and protein biotechnologies (enantioselective nitrile, biocatalysis and enantiometric resolution of racemic compounds). Multi-step chemo-enzymatic reactions. Novel Enzyme immobilisation strategies. Enzymology Brady, Dean
Expression Systems Competency Area Research interests are on DNA finger printing, Screening of cultivars and biosafety of plants. Plant biosciences Chakauya, Ereck
Plant Biotechnology Group Current research interests lie in Proteomics, Metabolomics, DNA fingerprinting, Screening of cultivars, Resistance of plant pathogens and Nutrigenomics. Plant biosciences Barros, Eugenia
Polymers and Bioceramics We are conducting an anti-TB nanodrug delivery project with the aim of developing delivery system that will improve the current inadequate therapeutic management of TB through sustained, controlled-targeted release. We have successfully nano encapsulated all four first line anti-TB drugs, i.e INH, RIF, ETB, PZA and have demonstrated a sustained controlled release. We have also demonstrated, in vitro, using TB-infected macrophage cells (BACTEC MGIT 690 method), that the percentage killing of bacteria was higher in nanoencapsulated ATDs than that of the free drugs. We are now conducting in vivo pre-clinical trials to test nanoencapsulated drugs in mice. Once these tests are successful, we will proceed to primate and human clinical trials. TB Swai, Hulda
Microbial Expression Research focus is on the Development of bacterial expression systems and Biofuels. Microbiology and Biotechnology Gerber, Isak
Expression Systems Competency Area Antimalarial drug discovery: transcriptional profiling of drug-challenged Plasmodium falciparum parasites; elucidating drug targets or antimalarial mode-of-action (MoA) from transcriptome data; mining the data for novel drug targets or biomarkers indicative of MoA; finding possible vaccine or diagnostic candidates amongst expression data; expression of malarial proteins with potential as drug targets in model plant species (currently tobacco). Malaria Becker, John
Molecular Biomaterials Currently involved in the generation of novel enzymatic systems for therapeutic and diagnostic applications. Busy constructing these enzymatic systems using proprietary protein immobilisation technologies developed at the CSIR. Enzymology Jordaan, Justin
Plant Biotechnology Group Current research areas are on Nutritional bio fortification, Medical Biotechnology, Phytochemical diversity, DNA finger printing, Screening of cultivars, Resistance of plant pathogens and Biosafety. Plant biosciences Mehlo, Luke
Aptamer Technology Looking at HIV entry and its interaction with host cells (macrophages and T cells). Exploiting Aptamer Technology (artificial nucleic acid molecules evolutionary engineered in a test tube for specific binding to various target molecules such as disease causing bacterial and viral proteins) to: Dissect HIV entry and Aids pathogenesis aiming to elucidate the disease mechanism at a molecular level and to develop novel therapeutics and prophylactics to prevent HIV entry and Aids pathogenesis. Also looking at developing rapid and reliable TB diagnostics. HIV Khati, Makobetsa
Plant Biotechnology Looking at Crop improvement of cereals- targeting fungal and insect resistance as well as nutritional quality enhancement. Plant biosciences O’Kennedy, Maretha
Microbial Expression Unit Current research is on the development of bacterial expression systems, Biofuels. Microbiology and Biotechnology Louw, Maureen
Gene expression and Biophysics Looking at determining the resolution of the spatial architecture and clear existence of the transcription factory and its members. Determining the role of nuclear and cytoplasmic processing events in the biogenesis of the mRNA in the different biological contexts (cell types, diseases, progenitor and stem cells). Thus with the ability to perform single molecule resolution questions the spatial organisation of other RNA processing events can more precisely be determined. Also, Extending the use of single molecule imaging approaches and far field techniques to the study of other biological problems that benefit from such techniques. Cell biology Mhlanga, Musa
Water Research Looking at the impact of nanomaterials on gene level of different organisms within the water ecosystem, and the Genotoxicity of cyanobacteria for human health. Microbiology and Biotechnology Oberholster, Paul
Analytical Science Group Working on Hyphenated analytical techniques in LC-MS. Identification of novel compounds and structure elucidation. Chemistry Steenkamp, Paul
Plant Biotechnology Group Research areas are on Protein expression, targeting and stability in maize and tobacco, Lectin trafficking Glycoproteins. Expression of pharmaceutical antibodies in plants. Breeding of fast-track antibodies against HIV. Plant biosciences Chikwamba, Rachel
Bioprocess Development Group Working on emerging microbial based production systems through appropriate host expression development in eukaryotes, prokaryotes, plant, animal and algal cell culture, which couples to a strong competency in product and process development. Also looking at Industrial, agricultural, pharmaceutical and veterinary products including bio-energy. Microbiology and Biotechnology Lalloo, Rajesh
Biophotonic bionanodevices Working on the development of light-activated controllable bio-molecular machines/devices. Development of microfluidic devices. Bioengineering Sparrow, Raymond
Genetics Development of molecular markers for disease resistance in plants using microarrays and other genetic markers. Functional genomics to identify genes involved in disease resistance or to identify secondary metabolites involved in the production of medicinal compounds. Data analysis of potato and maize metabolomic data to identify compounds driving differences between plant cultivars. Breeding and screening of transformed maize material for pharmaceutical compounds. Plant biosciences
Forestry Competency Area Focussing on the improvement of trees through Quantitative Genetics: Penicillium and Blup. Plant biosciences
Bioprospecting Group Working on the collection and management of Biodiversity samples e.g. plants. Extraction of samples, Bioassay guided fractionation, isolation of natural products and structure elucidation. Management of Indigenous Knowledge and IP. Biological assay e.g. Malaria, TB, HIV. Technologies for the production of herbal remedies and medicines derived from African traditional medicine. Plant biosciences Maharaj, Vinesh
Microbial Expression Systems Research involves cellulosome formation by expressing cellulosome components in B subtilis and B halodurans; development of B halodurans as host for production of peptide through flagellin channel. Microbiology and Biotechnology du Plessis, Erika
Enzyme technologies Research involves the isolation and characterisation of novel bacterial enzymes. Enzymology Hennessy, Fritha
Bioprospecting Unit Natural product chemistry: Involved with research projects aimed at the discovery and development of drug candidates from medicinal plants. Collaboration with multi-disciplinary research teams in research institutes, universities, government departments and private companies, aimed at discovering commercially valuable properties from the biodiversity of South Africa. Plant biosciences Fouche, Gerda
Water Resources Group Research is on water-borne pathogens. Microbiology and Biotechnology Le Roux, Wouter
Bioprospecting Group Working on the scientific validation of African traditional medicines, which includes the extraction, isolation and identification of active principles aimed at identifying drug leads for optimisation via synthetic manipulation. Focus on antimalarials. Malaria
Drug Discovery & Development Research areas are the folowing, Pharmacology: Setting up efficacy assays to support development of drug leads. Drug development: Establish in vitro assays to characterise the ADME properties of drug leads. Pharmacology Meoni, Paolo
Expression Systems Group Malaria: The use of mass spectrometry in the identification novel drug targets and biomarkers for the improvement of drug design. Malaria Stoychev, Stoyan
Molecular parasitology Protein parasitology: Research involves Tick innate immunity, Ticks as a source of novel therapeutics, Anti-tick vaccines. Animal biotechnology Gaspar, Anabella
Micro and Plant Pathology Research focuses on the evolutionary processes involved in microbial speciation. The relative importance of the various mechanisms driving the process is also considered. To study the evolutionary effects of phenomena such as vegetative reproduction, sexual reproduction and hybridization fungal models are used. To understand how horizontal gene transfer between related and unrelated taxa influences these processes, bacterial systems are used. Microbiology and Biotechnology Steenkamp, Emma
Cereal Science Researching the characterisation of phenolics of indigenous cereals and legumes, their antioxidant or biological effects and influence of processing. Looking at cereal protein chemistry and food lipids. Food science Duodu, Gyebi
Malaria Research Group Molecular biology, biochemistry and metabolic profiling of malarial parasites. Particularly focussing on polyamine metabolism, as the parasites are essentially totally dependent on these polycations for normal division and differentiation. Malaria Birkholtz, Lyn-Marie
Forestry & Agricultural Biotechnology Institute Looking at plant defence responses against fungal and bacterial pathogens of forest trees such as Eucalyptus and Pine. Arabidopsis thaliana is used as a model host for tree pathogens and the transcriptional response to the host is elucidated by expression analysis. This enables the identification of candidate genes which may be responsible for defence in the host. The genetic manipulation of these genes could confer resistance against the pathogen and so, the orthologs of these genes are identified in the host i.e. Eucalyptus or Pine to improve resistance against important pathogens. Plant biosciences Naidoo, Sanushka
Coetzee, Martin
Department of Physiology Neurophysiology: Looking at stress, the link between mental and physical health and pain. Education: Value added assessment, attitudes towards physiology and health beliefs. Neuropathology / Neurophysiology Govender, Catherine
Food Sciences Food Processing and preservation: Use of modern food-processing technologies (e.g. food irradiation and micronisation) to improve the functional, nutritional, sensory and microbiological stability and quality of food systems. Use of sensory evaluation to relate consumer acceptance of foods with physico-chemical and sensory characteristics of foods. Food science Minnaar, Amanda
Department of Physiology Looking at the development, synthesis and evaluation of novel anti-cancer agents targeting molecular biological and bio-energetic cancer phenotypes and their cell signaling pathways. Differential cellular mechanism(s) and - gene expression profiles of 2-methoxy-17Beta-estradiol and estradiol metabolites in a breast cancer cell line and a non-tumorigenic epithelial breast cell line. Cancer Joubert, Annie
Molecular Epidemiology & Zoology Working on identifying and characterising infectious agents in wildlife, due to it's increasingly growing transmission of disease at the wildlife-livestock and wildlife-human interface and also at the profound effect that disease outbreaks have on vulnerable wildlife populations. Projects involve elucidating genetic structuring within vertebrate and invertebrate taxa as a means of identifying appropriate management units and the use of temporal, geographical and host, pathogen variation to clarify the persistence and spread of infectious agents, thereby assisting with the identification of appropriate disease management strategies. Genetics Bastos, Armanda
Centre of Excellence in Tree Health Biotechnology Looking at genetic variation within as well as between species, by looking at the basic evolutionary biology based on ribosomal RNA-genes. Also collaborating with the Tree pathology research group, by working on important plant and tree pathogens -programme aimed at detecting trait-linked markers in trees. Plant biosciences Wingfield, Brenda
Drug Development Research Group Research involves the development of novel drugs for Cancer-, Inflammation treatment and the treatment of wounds. Pharmacology Medlen, Connie
Molecular Plant Physiology Group Working on understanding the mechanisms allowing plants of relevance to Africa to survive in these environments by being exposed to abiotic threats relevant to Africa. Research deals with the improvement of survival of legumes under drought. The roots of legumes form a symbiosis with nitrogen fixating bacteria from the soil in so called nodules which supply the plant with vital nitrogen for growth. Research tries in particular to understand the processes responsible for premature senescence in these nodules and to search for ways to delay senescence processes by manipulating the protease/protease inhibitor system. Genetics Kunert, Karl
Medicinal Plants Science Plant-based medicine for TB, Cancer, Diabetes, Oral-bacteria, Skin-hyperpigmentation problems, Isolation and purification of bioactive principles from plants and Micropropagation and stress related enzymatic studies in plants. Plant biosciences Lall, Namrita
Horticultural Science Research entails the agronomy of medicinal and aromatic plants. Plant biosciences Soundy, Puffy
Unit for Inflammation and Immunity Immunology and Infectious diseases: Medical immunology, Chronic and acute diseases, Infective and non-infective origin, TB, HIV, and others, Vascular Biology, Pharmacogenetics, Inflammatory diseases, Immuno pharmacology. Immunology Anderson, Ronald
Wits Bioinformatics Responsible for the Computational Molecular Biology Research Programme, which has a strong algorithm and data structure design focus. Key projects are: EST clustering and high performance computing: looking at the design of a key algorithm in genome or DNA sequence assembly. The work has strong theoretical and engineering components. Our group also works with biologists who are using EST clustering as part of their work. Parallelisation of algorithms using Linux clusters. Cloud computing. Genetics Hazelhurst, Scott
Institute of Applied Materials Polymers, materials science: Working on modifying polymer properties by blending functional additives, e.g. nanoclays, Carbon materials for nuclear applications, Pyrotechnics for mining applications. Chemistry Focke, Walter
Tea Research Group Research focuses on Tea Business, from Agriculture to marketing, tea decaffeination without adding organic solvents, anti-oxidants in tea, mouse model for inhibition in retroviruses such as HIV, toxicology and mutagenicity studies (safe consumption of plant products), proteomics (protein expression in plants), impact of cultivars and growth conditions on expression of metabolites (tea and Artemisia annua). Genetics Apostolides, Zeno
Centre for Nutrition Research is on Malnutrition, Food security and Indigenous crops. Food science Oelofse, Andre
Veterinary and tropical diseases Epidemiology of animal trypanosomosis: Working on the characterisation (virulence, resistance, genetic, serological) of trypanosomes and the susceptibility of cattle as well as Tsetse flies to trypanosomes. Animal biotechnology Masumu, Justin
Veterinary and Tropical Diseases Molecular parasitology- Theileriosis and Babesiosis: Research is on the identification and molecular characterization of hitherto uncharacterized Theileria species of the African buffalo. Animal biotechnology Oosthuizen, Marinda
Veterinary and Tropical Diseases Molecular biology of animal parasites: Research focus is on the identification (using the RLB technique) and molecular characterization (cloning and sequencing) of novel and uncharacterised Theileria species of the African buffalo. Animal biotechnology Chaisi, Mamohale
Molecular Plant Pathogen Interactions Group Molecular Plant Pathogen Interactions Group: Research focuses on the molecular basis of plant-pathogen interactions and the mechanisms of plant defence using the following tools - growth room, glasshouse and field trials; molecular biology, biochemistry and genetic techniques; GM plants; functional genomics (particularly construction of SSH cDNA libraries, DNA microarrays, and gene silencing) and Bioinformatics. Plant biosciences Berger, Dave
Veterinary and Tropical Diseases Molecular biology, Bioinformatics, GIS: Researching the African horse sickness virus, using rapid diagnostics assays, recombinant vaccines, molecular epidemiology and genome sequencing. Animal biotechnology
Food Science Correlation of consumer food acceptance, descriptive sensory data and physico-chemical analysis, Repeated-exposure sensory testing. Food science de Kock, Riette
Biomolecular Interaction Analysis Programme Antibody responses in TB, HIV, auto immunity. The BIA programme focuses on the interaction of patient antibodies with antigens of lipid, carbohydrate and protein nature. Tuberculosis: Mycolic acids in tuberculosis; TB serodiagnostics, anti-mycolic acid antibodies as surrogate markers of active TB. TB Verschoor, Jan
Plant Virology Research is on viruses of citrus and grapevines. Conduct research on viruses and other graft-transmissible organisms of citrus and grapevines in support of their respective certification programmes. Establish, modify and/or implement diagnostic tests to these pathogens. Study spread of grapevine leafroll disease and develop strategies to prevent this; The dynamics of citrus tristeza virus strains in order to improve mild-strain cross-protection strategies; Epidemiology and variability of citrus greening disease, caused by Liberibacter africanus in South Africa. Plant biosciences Pietersen, Gerhard
Tree protection co-operative programme Fungi and bacteria resulting in disease and death of woody hosts. Most of my research has been focussed on the diseases of the commercial plantation forestry species in South Africa and other African countries, namely Acacia mearnsii, Eucalyptus spp. and Pinus spp.. Fungal taxonomy, fungal population diversity studies, insect population, tree disease diagnosis, tree-pathogen epidemiology, tree disease management. Plant biosciences Roux, Jolanda
Food Science Looking at food biopolymers used as ediplastics in starch-lipid interactions as fat replacer. Food biopolymer extraction from African grains, its characterisation, modification and application in food and non-food use. Food science Emmambux, Naushad
Molecular Ecology and Evolution Programme Research is on the process of speciation and how vertebrate animal populations function, both from a historical (phylogeography) and current (population genetic) perspective. Looking at mammals (of which some are endangered species), birds and fish populations. Using freshwater fish as indicators of river health and as flagships for the conservation of our limited freshwater resources. Animal biotechnology Bloomer, Paulette
Soil borne diseases research group Plant growth promoting rhizobacteria as biocontrol agents. Integrated disease management of phytopathogenic nematodes. Diseases in hydroponic (soilless) systems main research focus is on root/ soil-borne diseases with emphasis on etiology and control. The research encompasses both biological and chemical control of fungal pathogens as well as plant parasitic nematodes. Resistance against root-infecting fungi is being studied with an emphasis on resistance mechanisms. Research experience includes etiology and control of diseases caused by Chalara elegans (Thielaviopsis basicola), Fusarium solani and F oxysporum, Phytophthora nicotianae, P. cinnamomi, Pythium spp. and phytopathogenic nematodes on a number of crops. Current research on soil-borne diseases. Biological control by means of plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR). Plant biosciences Labuschagne, Nico
Department of Genetics Doing research on breeding goals in Animal Breeding. Also doing Estimation and Statistical tests in Phylogenetic tree construction. Genetics Roux, Carl
Botany and Plant Biotechnology Physiological processes involved in the ripening of fruit and senescence of plant tissues and mechanisms to delay these processes. Plant biosciences Whitehead, Charles
Plant-Pathogen Interaction Isolation of genes playing a role in signalling when plants are treated with elicitors. Plant biosciences Huang, Ju-Chi
Research Centre for Condensed Meta-Physics Novel ground states of condensed matter. Physics Strydom, Andre
Medicinal Natural Products Research Group Natural Products Research is all about the isolation, characterisation, and synthesis of medicinal natural products from Southern Africa. The focus in our group is on plants that can be considered “tonic plants” or plants that have some ethnobotanical multi-purpose history such as Sutherlandia, Pentanisia, and Lippia plant species, Nanotechnology of drug delivery system. Plant biosciences Krause, Rui
Plant Pathogen Interactions, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology The manipulation of a plant's natural defences to increase its resistance to disease, and ultimately to improve crop production. Differential/ inducible gene expression, plant defense, plant innate immunity, plant stress metabolism. Plant biosciences Dubery, Ian
Botany and Plant Biotechnology Plant anatomy: Systematics of the Apiales and selected genera of the Rubiaceae (systematics and anatomical aspects). Plant biosciences Tilney, Patricia
Laser Research Group The use of laser irradiation in wound healing, cancer therapy, tissue engineering and stem cells. Cancer Abrahamse, Heidi
Houreld, Nicolette
URC Protein Structure-Function Research Unit Research focus is on the structural organisation of protein molecules and assemblies, folding and stability, mechanisms of molecular recognition and biological functions, protein engineering and biotechnology. Also working on enzymes in molecular toxicology (e.g. supergene family of glutathione transferases), eye lens crystallins, chaperones and co-chaperones, heat-shock proteins, apoptosis proteins, and green fluorescence protein. HIV Dirr, Heinrich
Food, Environment & Health Research Group Looking at the Identification and survey of mycotoxins in feeds and foods; effects of these on cells and mechanism of action; correlation of this in human disease particularly in the rural areas of Africa; identification of major mycotoxin and fungal contaminants in foods and feeds including framework Biotracer programme. Food science Dutton, Mike
Njobeh, Patrick
Biosciences, Agro-processing and Food Technologies Group Research interest is on the extraction, characterisation and utilisation of prolamin proteins from cereal grains, and their processing by-products. Also interested in investigating antioxidant components of indigenous, as well as exotic edible plants that may be of health benefit. Food science Dlamini, Nomusa
Structural Biology Group Research involves Heterologous protein expression, protein biochemistry and DNA manipulation. Malaria Roth, Robyn
Malaria Research Group Malaria parasite drug discovery, Protein expression of P falciparum. Structural biology and bioinformatics. Functional genomics proteomics of plasmodium under drug pressure. Determine the structure of proteins use information to understand function of protein and so designing inhibitors that can be converted to drug leads.  Look at metabolism of parasite.   Malaria Louw, Braam
The Greeff lab Afrikaner Ancestry Project. Evolution of reproductive strategies. Quantify variation in sex allocation and understand why it occurs. Understanding of factors that limit optimally in reproduction. Our main study organisms has been fig wasps and humans. In fig wasps our main research foci has been on male polymorphisms, on facultative sex ratio adjustment and on evolutionary drivers for outbreeding. population genetics and possible diagnostics for some veterinary diseases; nematode Spirocerca lupi, which infects dogs. Kruger National Park Ficus sycomorus pollination project.  Community effects of individual reproductive strategies. Genetics Greeff, Jaco
Bioinformatics Major programmes are malaria bioinformatics and target discovery, development of functional genomics information management systems, meta-genomics data analysis, analysis of high-throughput sequencing data and structural bioinformatics. Malaria Joubert, Fourie
Forest Molecular Genetics Programme Research focuses on the molecular genetics and genomics of xylogenesis, the developmentally regulated process through which wood fibre is formed and which is fundamental to carbon fixation in plants.Looking at the genetic control of carbon partitioning into cellulose, hemi-cellulose and lignin, the major biochemical constituents of wood fibre. Genetics Myburg, Zander
Red Cell Membrane Unit Telomere biology in chronic myeloid leukaemia. Telomere biology is central to the normal aging of human cells, with telomeres acting as a tumour suppressor. All human cancers exhibit dysfunctional telomeres with research into the exact mechanisms involved providing for advancement of diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of human cancer. Cancer Gil, Marcel
Molecular Biology of Orbiviruses Research Programme is on novel delivery systems for animal vaccines based on recombinant virus proteins. Focusing on the molecular biology of double-stranded RNA-viruses and more specifically African horsesickness virus. Animal biotechnology Huismans, Henk
Molecular Mycobateriology Research Unit Research is on TB drug discovery, Bacterial latency, Electron transport in mycobacteria, DNA polymerases and mutagenesis and Co-factor biosynthesis in mycobacteria. TB Kana, Bavesh
Cereal Genomics Research involves the resistance response of cereals by gene regulation againts plant pathogens. Activation or stimulation of the Induced Systemic Response (ISR) to extend the resistance or susceptibility of cultivars. Identification of small non-coding RNA (ncRNA) and its role in the defence responses of cereals. Plant biosciences Venter, Eduard
“Plant Defense Responses” Group Working on the gene expression profiles, induced in Arabidopsis thaliana following treatment with LPS and ergosterol, with regard to the advancement of basal resistance in plants. Plant biosciences Piater, Lizelle
Yeast Expression Systems Group Research involves the following: Expressing therapeutic proteins in yeast. Making bio-generics using yeast as an expression system. Efficacy studies. Glyco profiling of glycoproteins. Microbiology and Biotechnology Moleleki, Ntsane
Product and Process Development Group Research is in the following areas: Food Additives, Nutraceuticals and Shelf life studies. Food science Botha, Gerda
Pollution and Waste Research field is related to biological treatment of pollutants in Waste water. This can be organic and inorganic pollutants. The main focus is on the operation of bio reactors, process engineering, monitoring of chemical changes, monitoring of biological changes ( T-RLFP) and SEM. The second main focus is on the anaerobic digestion of organic waste to produce biogas.
Microbiology and Biotechnology Greben, Harma
Sexually Transmitted Infections Research Group Working on the genotyping, characterizing and diagnosing of Sexually Transmitted Infections. Medical Microbiology Kock, Marleen
Medical Microbiology The main research focus area is on the evaluation and implementation of Real-Time PCR assays for the rapid and accurate detection of Mycobacterium species and specifically Mycobacterium tuberculosis in patient specimens. Molecular methods for the rapid detection of MDR-TB and XDR-TB from clinical specimens are also being investigated. Research also focuses on the molecular identification and characterization of emerging and re-emerging pathogens (with emphasis on antibiotic resistance) and their health implications. Medical Microbiology Ehlers, Marthie
African horsesickness Group (AHS) Research is on African horsesickness (AHS), which is caused by African horsesickness virus (AHSV), by using RNAi-technologies as tools to study the in vivo functional role of the AHSV-proteins in virus replication, morphogenesis and virulence. Also looking at the Mechanisms underlying AHSV-cell attachment and entry; the Role of virus nonstructural proteins in virus assembly and release; and Enzyme activities of the AHSV-minor core proteins. Animal biotechnology Theron, Jacques
Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Unit Research involves genome linguistics, tracing mobile genomic elements, web-application design and Python programming. Genetics Reva, Oleg
Agro-processing and Food Technologies Group Research involves the following areas: Product development, waste value-addition, waste beneficiation, biodiesel, aquaculture. Food science
Enteric Virus and Environmental Research Group Research is on the following topics: Molecular characterisation of selected enteric viruses in human specimens and environmental samples as well as the transmission of enteric viruses in water and food-borne transmission.  The development and application of cost effective techniques for the sensitive detection of enteric viruses in surface and treated drinking water samples.  Looking into the link between irrigation water quality and food safety. The assessment and optimisation of RT-PCR for the sensitive and rapid detection of hepatitis A virus and human caliciviruses in food and water sources. The molecular characterisation of adenoviruses from human specimens and environmental samples. Medical Microbiology Taylor, Maureen
HIV/ AIDS Research Group Research involves looking at novel anti-HIV treatments derived from metallo-drugs and natural products, as well as HIV/ AIDS metabolomics and synthetic peptides as HIV vaccine components. HIV Meyer, Debra
Bacterial diversity and systematics Research involves bacterial systematics and diversity by studying the survival of bacterial pathogens in aquatic and terrestrial environments and is currently using Salmonella Typhimurium as a model organism.  Microbiology and Biotechnology Venter, Fanus
Cell Death in Cancer Research Group Research involves the development of novel molecular therapeutics that target cell death pathways in cancer cells. Cancer Cronje, Marianne
Bone Research Laboratory Research focus is on bone tissue engineering and tissue morphogenesis. Regenerative medicine Ripamonti, Ugo
Cell-based therapy Cell-based therapy: (1) Engineering cells of the immune system to render them resistant to infection by HIV. (2) Establishment of a national public cord blood stem cell bank.Pharmacogenetics: The study, at the molecular level, of polymorphisms in enzymes involved in drug metabolism, with the primary objective of optimising pharmacotherapy to reduce side-effects and to improve efficacy of treatment. Regenerative medicine Pepper, Michael
Enteric Virus Group Research involves the detection and characterization of enteric viruses and parasites.
Medical Microbiology van Zyl, Walda
Respiratory Emerging Zoonotic Virus Group/ Respiratory Virus Unit Research is on respiratory viruses associated with acute lower respiratory tract disease, with an interest in determining the significance of the different viral causes in severe lower respiratory tract infections in both HIV positive and negative children in South Africa by looking at the molecular epidemiology and immunopathogenesis of these viruses in their host. She is also working on emerging zoonotic viruses and virus discovery.
Medical Microbiology Venter, Marietjie
Wits Intellect in Drug and Biomolecular Delivery Technology

Research is on the following areas: Neuro-nanopharmaceutics, Drug delivery, Polymer and Materials Science:

-Rate-Modulated Delivery of Bioactive Molecules using Smart Polymers
-Nanotechnology for the Design of Targeted Drug Delivery Carriers
-Mathematical and Statistical Theories in Drug Delivery

Pharmacology Pillay, Viness
Ecophysiological Studies Research Group Research is on the Integrated management of water hyacinth combining herbicides and insects; Orientation behaviour of dung beetles; and the Post-release evaluation of biological control agents.  Animal biotechnology Byrne, Marcus
Molecular Sciences Institute (Organic Synthesis) Research is on the synthesis of compounds with anti-cancer, -malarial and –bacterial activities. Chemistry
Restoration and Conservation Biology Research Group Research involves the population dynamics and regeneration of savannah trees, including fire and browse utilisation by large herbivores in savannah ecosystems, (b) conservation biology of rare and endangered plants, (c) restoration of degraded ecosystems, (d) plant ecophysiology and stress ecology, (d) sustainable renewable resource use in relation to human livelihoods, (e) ecology and ecophysiology of sclerophyllous shrubs in mediterranean ecosystems, (f) the biology of problem alien plants and (g) the vegetation of gold slimes dams. Plant biosciences Witkowski, Edward
Biogeochemistry of savannah and plantation ecosystems Research focus is on Biogeochemistry of savannah and plantation ecosystems. Controls on nitrogen, carbon and phosphorus cycling in savannas. Soil-root interactions, biological nitrogen fixation and mycorrhizae, nutrient acquisition and the rhizosphere. Sustainability of plantations in South Africa. Biogenic trace gas emissions, focusing on biosphere-atmosphere interactions. Tropical soil fertility, soil biological processes and sustainable agriculture. Plant biosciences Scholes, Mary
Potato Research Programme Potato physiology research. Main focus is on the breaking of tuber dormancy (sprout growth and development). Plant biosciences
Centre for Aquatic Research Research involves aquatic research in the field of freshwater and estuarine ecotoxicology; Ecological risk assessment; and Ecophysiological and biomarker research. Animal biotechnology Wepener, Victor
Biodiversity Department Reseach involves looking at the taxonomy and systematics of symbiotic copepods. Animal biotechnology Dippenaar, Susan
Molecular and Cell Biology Research area is on industrial biotechnology. Research includes Mixed consortium engineering of industrial microorganisms, Bioprocessing, Directed evolution of industrial enzymes, The bio-based economy. Microbiology and Biotechnology Rumbold, Karl
Plant Pathogen Interactions Group Research involves looking at Pectobacterium carotovorum subsp. Brasiliences (Pcb), which is an important emerging pathogen of potatoes in South Africa resulting in considerable reduction of yield. The aim is to study pathogenicity factors of Pcb in an attempt to understand and eventually combat the disease and increase potato production. Plant biosciences Moleleki, Lucy
School of Physiology Research focuses on the mechanism of action of G protein-coupled receptors. The aim is to define the molecular basis of HIV infection, focusing on the role of the CCR5 chemokine receptor in the fusion of HIV with host cells, and to define the molecular mechanisms by which the GnRH receptor mediates intracellular signalling. HIV Flanagan, Colleen
Organic Chemistry Research interests are on two areas: Synthetic methodology directed towards potentially medicinally useful organic compounds and Homogeneous catalysis using amongst other techniques, Lewis acid catalysis. Chemistry Williams, Bradley
Food safety/ Biocontrol/ Postharvest Pathology Research is on the following areas: Integrated disease management, Sustainable insect management, Biocontrol of plant diseases, Enteric viruses & Environmental research, and Postharvest technology and food safety. Plant biosciences Korsten, Lise
Plant Systematics; DNA Barcoding Plant Molecular Systematics: Research focus on using DNA sequence data to improve the understanding of plant evolution and classification of specific groups. DNA Barcoding the trees of Africa: The Tree-BOL initiative aims to create a reference database of trees by establishing DNA barcodes of all tree species in the world.
Plant biosciences van der Bank, Michelle
High Throughput Biology Group Research focus is on high throughput genome wide screening in infectious diseases.
Cell biology Emans, Neil
Potato Pathology Programme Research is on potato diseases by looking at the control and epidemiology. Plant biosciences van der Waals, Jacquie
Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute Plant pathology. Plant biosciences Aveling, Theresa
Department of Pharmacology Drug receptors for gout treatment, SDAT-clinical evaluation, Paediatric drug development. Pharmacology Greeff, Oppel
Department of Pharmacology Inflammation, gout, cancer drugs. Wound healing. Pharmacology Cromarty, Duncan
Organic Synthesis Group Synthesis of mycolic acid analogues for TB diagnosis. TB Pilcher, Lynne
Food Security Household food security measurement, coping strategies, vulnerability, agricultural growth and international development.
Food science Hendriks, Sheryl
Department of Animal and Wildlife Sciences The impact of climate change on tropical and sub-tropical livestock production systems, forage crops adaptation and mitigation of greenhouse gas production in animal agriculture. Plant biosciences Hassen, Abubeker
Phytobacteriology Taxonomy/ systematics of bacteria. Genomics. Microbiology and Biotechnology Coutinho, Teresa
Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases (DVTD) Group Vector-borne protozoal and rickettsial diseases, Viral Diseases, Bacterial Diseases, Helminth infections, Community based projects on infectious diseases. Animal biotechnology Venter, Estelle
Biomolecular Interaction Group Recombinant antibodies and diagnosis and research of TB. The biochemistry, immunology and molecular biology of parasites and bacteria of medical-veterinary significance in Southern Africa. TB Beukes, Mervyn
Biosaftey Biosafety Bothma, Gurling Charles
Expression Systems for protein/peptide production Bacterial expression systems for hertrologous protein/peptide production Microbiology and Biotechnology Crampton, Michael
Bacterial expression systems, Plant expression systems, Molecular biology My research interest involves the expression of pharmaceutical molecules in plant platforms. This include expression vector design, construct validations, plant transformation and screening. Then finally protein extraction, purification and efficacy testing. Plant biosciences Stark, Therese

Microfluidics with specific application in Bio-Engineering field. All elements of design, manufacture and implementation of micofluidic circuits, including sample introduction, mixing, droplet generation and testing of circuits.

Bioengineering Potgieter, Suretha
Microbial Expression group Developement of microbial expression systems in Bacillus halodurans for the production of therapeutic peptides utilising the flagellin gene. Strain improvement through gene targeted inactivation and promoter improvement Microbiology and Biotechnology Berger, Eldie
ARC Biotech platform

Next Generation Sequencing.

Some of the current projects include:

Genome wide gene regulatiion, i.e. Functional genomics/ transciptoics during plan-pest/pathogen interactions. Developement of synthetic genetics, biofuels an alternative organic power generation eg. bio-cells and extremophiles

Virus discovery and characterisation in agricultural crops focusing on perennial crops i.e. grapevine and apples

Genetics Swanevelder, Dirk
Ntushelo, Khayalethu
Nhlapo, Thulile
Ngoepe, Nare
Arnolds, Linchay
de Castro, Minique
Rauwane, Molemi
Lekota, Kgaugelo
Maree, Hano
Swart, Hannelize
Rees, Jasper
Nherera, Florence
ARC-GCI plant breeding and biotechnology We focus mainly on the development and application of molecular markers for marker assisted breeding in soybean, drybean, peanut and maize. Fingerprinting of maize and sunflower lines are done with fluorescently labeled SSR markers on routine basis utilizing automated electrophoresis with an ABI3130xl genetic analyzer. Other techniques used include AFLP and microsatellite analysis utilizing silverstaining of PAGE gels. SCARs are developed by isolation of bands from the stained gels, amplification, purification and cloning of the fragments.  Sequencing is done in-house.  New primers are developed from sequence information. A study on identification of molecular markers for use in marker assisted selection in soybean was successfully completed with two markers converted from AFLP fragments to SCAR markers, and one RFLP marker linked to root-knot nematode resistance (Meloidogyne javanica). Markers linked to resistance to Meloidogyne incognita were also successfully developed. Markers were also developed for rust resistance in dry bean and several markers are used for marker assisted selection in the breeding program on routine basis.  The different species of root-knot nematode prevalent in South Africa are identified with PCR on a routine basis. Fungal isolates are identified through sequencing analysis. Statistical analysis of molecular data is done with NTSYSpc, STATGRAPHICS, Powermarker, MapManager, MAPMAKER/EXP, MAPMAKER/QTL and QTL Cartographer.


Genetics Mienie, Charlotte
Metagenomics Metagenomic Characterisation of plant photosystems Plant pathology Ntushelo, Khayalethu
Orbivirus Research Group My research focuses on the moleclar biology of African horse sickness virus, I am specifically interested in aspects relating to virulence and pathogenesis. At the moment I am leading an ivestigation into the mechanisms of release of African horse sickness virus (AHSV) from insect and mammalian cells, proposed to be mediated by nonstructural protein NS3. This involves investigsting the intercellular trafficking, interaction with host cellular components and release of AHSV particles from infected mammalian and insect cells; comparing the regulation of gene expression of parental and reassortant AHSV strains and the effect thereof on mammalian and insect host cells; and characterising the functional domains of ASHV NS3 that determines its subcellular localisation, trafficking and cytotoxicity by using recombinantly expressed NS3 protein as antigen display systems in vaccine development Genetics van Staden, Vida
Evolutionary Genetics Group I am primarily interested in how micro evolutionary processes scale up to result in macro evolutionary patterns. To study this question I use a combination of evolutionary modelling and applying it to data collected from various organisms. In South Africa we use the Ficus microcosm, which includes fig wasps, fungus, nematodes and mites coevolving in the same niche to test hypotheses. My research is primarily concerned with phenotypes (phenomics) – a somewhat neglected field in the “omics” age and the eventual goal is to map genotypic variation to phenotypic variation in this system. Currently we know very little of the genetics of these organisms, but are looking into newer techniques, such as RAD sequencing in order to sequence large parts of their genomes, as well as to quantify genetic variation at the SNP level Genetics Pienaar, Jason
Sorghum breeding Use of genetic diversity in plant breeding, germplasm enhancement, grain quality in sorghum, developing selection methods for quantitative traits in cereal crops, and associating molecular markers with quantitative and qualitative traits in crop improvement. Plant biosciences Shargie, Nemera
Genetics and Genomics of vegetable crops We use emerging "omics" tools to understand and improve vegetable crops, especially the underutilized ones. Current projects include; "The utilization of molecular techniques for identification of pest resistance genes in cassava (Molemi Rauwane", "The genomic analysis of sweet potato viruses from eastern and southern Africa (Thulile Nhlapo)", and "The use of modern genomic tools for rapid improvement of South African Amaranths species Genetics Nhlapo, Thulile
Ngoepe, Nare
Rauwane, Molemi
Odeny, Damaris
Proteomics Unit of the ARC Biotechnology Platform Our current investigations include, the large-scale investigation of effects of drought and salinity on the proteome (expressed proteins) of Arabidopsis thaliana and Sorghum bicolour seedlingsThis research is funded mainly by UWC, the NRF the DST and the Royal Society of London. My group hosted two high-profile international proteomics conferences held at UWC, in March 2006 and in March 2008 (sponsors: Royal Society, ARC, CBT and PlantBio) as well as the first the first ever UWC Biotechnology Research Open Day sponsored by the MRC and Invitrogen. With American colleagues – we submitted a 3-year research grant application to Bill Gate’s BREAD (Biotechnology Research to Enable Agricultural Development) programme. I have an established collaboration (since 2006) with Drs Abram Madiehe ( and Amanda Skepu ( towards a proteomic approach in the investigation and characterisation of potential obesity and diabetes-related proteins and protein biomarkers.So far we have identified at least 5 vital obesity related serum rat proteins. A manuscript for this work is in preparation.Funding for this research is mainly from the medical research council (MRC) and the NRF. I have a collaboration with Prof. Melané Vivier and Dr. Sharath Govind (India), from the Institute for Wine Biotechnology at Stellenbosch University, on the proteomics of tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) PGIP transgenic model system and in grapevine (Vinis vitifera) molecular development studies. Using gel-based proteomics, we discovered a number of very interesting putative grape ripening proteins (Sharathcandra et al., 2011, 10-PONE-RA-20842R1) and pathogen stress related proteins. Proteomics Ndimba, Bongani
Protein Bichemistry I work in various areas of research. My role at the CSIR is underpinned by my tecnical expertise as a protein biochemist. I therefore find myself working in a wide range of research areas. Proteomics Tsekoa, Tsepo
Malaria Drug target validation Malaria drug target validation through genetic manipulation technology – this includes parasite gene over-expression and knock-out. Our research also includes investigating transcriptional regulation of the parasite upon drug perturbation. Malaria van Brummelen, Tharina
Evolutionary Medicine Unit The Evolutionary Medicine Unit (EMU) uses an integrated and collaborative approach to tackle fundamental questions in molecular and cellular evolution, and applies these advances to our understanding of human disease. Evolutionary biology is experiencing a period of rapid growth with major conceptual and experimental advances being made (see “Do we need an extended evolutionary synthesis” by M Pigliucci, 2007). In addition, the value of using evolutionary principles to investigate disease is becoming apparent (see “The great opportunity: Evolutionary applications to medicine and public health” by RM Nesse and SC Stearns, 2007).Our work crosses the artificial boundaries of traditional disciplines. We use whatever approaches are appropriate, and have been known to develop new ones! Active collaborations with scientists in diverse fields and at other universities make this a highly dynamic, stimulating research group. Researchers with backgrounds in molecular and cell biology, ecology, evolution, biochemistry, bioinformatics, computational biology and medicine may find a home here. EMU occupies a newly renovated laboratory with access to all the basic equipment required for molecular biology research and is affiliated to the Department of Molecular Medicine and Haematology at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa EMU researchers investigate the molecular and cellular basis for evolutionary transitions and increase in biocomplexity, including the origins of the genome, multicellularity and programmed cell death. This is essentially a study of the molecular evolution of cooperation. Insights gained are often applied to our understanding of human disease. The volvocine algae are often used as a model system (for more information see the Volvocales Information Project at; however other organisms, tissues and viruses are used in our projects. For details regarding the interests of EMU researchers and collaborators please see Evolutionary Medicine Durand, Pierre
Pest and disease problems on forest trees (FABI) My research interests are focused in the broad area of forest biotechnology. More specifically, my research group studies various aspects of pathogens, particularly fungi that are important to the forestry industries of South Africa and other countries of the world. We are particularly interested in those fungi that cause diseases of trees, degrade timber or that are potentially valuable in various aspects of the pulping process and in the production of industrially valuable compounds. We also have active projects dealing with insect pests in plantations. My research programme falls under the umbrella of the Tree Protection Cooperative Programme (TPCP) that is a cooperative venture between the University of Pretoria and all forestry companies in South Africa including Hans Merensky, Global Forest Products, NCT, CTC, TWK, Sappi, Mondi, Komatiland Forests, Mountain to Ocean, SA Forestry, the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry and the Institute for Commerical Forestry Research. As such, the team bears the responsibility for all forest protection issues in South Africa, covering an area of about 1.5 million hectares of plantation.Some of the fungi of particular interest to our group and that are the subject of intensive study, both at the ecological and molecular level are the notorious tree pathogens Chrysoporthe austroafricana (anamorph Chrysoporthella hodgesiana, ex Cryphonectria cubensis) that causes a serious stem canker disease of Eucalyptus, Diplodia pinea (Sphaeropsis sapinea) that devastates pine plantations after hail and species of Ceratocystis that cause a serious wilt diseases of trees, the pitch canker fungus Fusarium circinatum, Mycosphaerella spp. that infect leaves and needles, Botryosphaeria spp. that cause stem cankers, Cylindrocladium spp. that cause leaf blight , Armillaria root rot, Eucalyptus rust and others. Species of Ophiostoma (a group that includes the Dutch elm disease agent) have also been the subject of investigation for numerous years and are of special interest, not only for their role as tree pathogens but also for their potential value in pulp production and monoterpene bioconversions. Amongst the insects of greatest interest to me are the Sirex wood wasp (Sirex noctilio) and a wide range of bark beetles (Coleoptera: Scolytidae) that infest conifers.I am involved in a wide range of research projects both in South Africa and elsewhere in the world. These include those linked to the TPCP (see the TPCP section of this web site) and funded by the South African Forestry Industry together with various associated Government grants, international projects including those with the Chinese, Norwegian, Australian and Swedish Governments, and projects with forestry companies in Latin America and South East Asia.For further information please refer to website. Plant biosciences Wingfield, Mike
Immunochemistry Avian recombinant antibodies, library construction, selection and applying the antibodies in immunoassays. Identifying epitopes on Mycobaterium bovis proteins which interacts with antibodies from diseased animals. Immunology Fehrsen, Jeanni
Diagnostic development for animal RNA viruses Diagnostic development for animal RNA viruses. Whole genome sequencing of viruses and vector insects. Animal biotechnology Koekemoer, Otto
Plant heat and disease resistance The plant innate immune response is mediated by resistance genes and involves activation of programmed cell death programs. These responses are essential to ensure continued survival of plants against the onslaught of various pathogens. However, heat-related abrogation of disease resistance is a well established phenomenon, and has been related to changes in defence gene expression. Some of these alterations include decreased salicylic-acid accumulation, PR-protein expression and phenyl-propanoid expression, all events shown to be necessary for the establishment of resistance to recognized pathogens. Furthermore, it has been (Cronje, Weir et al. 2004) shown that induced apoptotic-related events in plants, including perturbations in mitochondria, externalization of phosphatidylserine on the plasma membrane and DNA fragmentation, are negatively correlated with Hsp70, a 70 kDa protein induced by heat shock and involved in thermotolerance and protection against oxidative stress. However, the interaction between these two mutually exclusive events (cell death vs. cell survival) are not understood in plants, and given the complexity of both these processes, it is essential to fully understand these before strategies are devised to transform plants. These net changes occurring in the transcriptome of plants during simultaneous heat treatments and pathogen exposure can be investigated comprehensively with microarrays. Exploring the precise function of the differentially expressed genes analysed by this technique will provide insights into heat-related changes to defence responses. Ultimately, this knowledge will aid the development of strategies to transform/genetically engineer plants that are both heat- and disease resistant. Plant biosciences Walters, John
Fruit Tree Biotechnology Programme My research interests are in the development of transgenic Eucalyptus and banana trees. This entail Agrobacterium tumefaciens mediated transformation of Eucalyptus and banana trees with various genes, screening of the putatively transformed lines by molecular techniques and greenhouse trials to confirm the integration of the gene in the genome. I am also involved in the managing of the tissue culture and Arabidopsis growth facilities in FABI. Plant biosciences
Plant-pathogen interactions Plant-pathogen interactions, with a focus on the molecular aspects of plant defence and using this understanding to enhance plants resistance to phytopathogens. Specifically, my current research involves determining the quantitative genomics underlying maize resistance against grey leaf spot caused by the necrotrophic fungus Cercospora zeina. Plant pathology Phillips, Sonia
Transboundary Animal Diseases My research focuses on viral research, in particular on Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) with specific emphasis on the development, improvement and refinement of FMD vaccines to assist with disease control as well as other related research projects. Animal biotechnology van Heerden, Juanita
Database Test Research Programme I am interested in Biochemical adaptaion. The expression of gene and proteins in response to stressors. The effects of stressors on protein stability and intergrity. I am also intersted in the epigenetic effects of stressors. Animal biotechnology TestUser, Test1
Pretorius, Alri
New Generation Vaccines Heatwater vaccine development and monitoring of the host immune responses Immunology
Animal Genetics Finding genes for economically important traits Animal biotechnology
Analytical Chemistry: Identification of species and secondary metabolites using chromatography Identification of species and secondary metabolites from toxigenic cyanobacteria, fungi and form diseased plants Chemistry Msagati, Titus
Structural Biology of Infectious Diseases Molecular mechanisms underlying infections diseases: Projects tend to involve at least two proteins or one protein and another ligand. We investigate the interaction of the two components, frequently deriving from different organisms, and elucidate the three dimensional structure of the complex. By site directed mutagenesis we try to pinpoint the critical areas of the interaction, where intervention would have the largest impact overall. Structural Biology Schubert , Wolf-Dieter
User Chemistry User Rohwer , Egmont
Botha, Christo
Ward , Margaret
Hillie, KT