RHODES UNIVERSITY, GRAHAMSTOWN
FACULTY OF SCIENCE
Lecturer/Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor/Professor: Biotechnology (5 Year Contract)
The CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) is a leading scientific and technology research organisation, implementing projects throughout Africa and making a difference in people’s lives.
Postdoctoral Researcher: Biomanufacturing of Protein and Enzyme Reagents
Postdoctoral Research Fellow (2016) at University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
A postdoctoral research fellowship is available related to an exciting research project related to Plant Biotechnology/ Plant Molecular Biology. I require a postdoctoral fellow who has general experience in microbiology; functional genomics; plant pathology; bioinformatics and plant molecular biology (specifically having worked with plant viruses would be a bonus but not entirely necessary) for two years, with renewal after one year based on performance and progress. The position is open from 1st July 2016.
Lecturer/Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor/Professor: Biotechnology (5 Year Contract)
RHODES UNIVERSITY BIOTECHNOLOGY INNOVATION CENTRE
The Rhodes University Biotechnology Innovation Centre invites applications for an academic position at the Lecturer/Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor/Professor level. The successful candidate will be expected to provide support for the SARChi Chair: Biotechnology Innovation & Engagement. Furthermore the incumbent should be able to demonstrate engagement with technology transfer and innovation as it relates to translating research in Biotechnology. This may be in the form of funded research aimed at product development, prototypes or patents developed, policy or training in technology entrepreneurship.
FACULTY OF NATURAL AND AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE
DEPARTMENT OF MICROBIOLOGY AND PLANT PATHOLOGY
In pursuit of the ideals of excellence and diversity, the University of Pretoria wishes to invite applications for the following vacancy. The University of Pretoria's commitment to quality makes us one of the top research Universities in the country and gives us a competitive advantage in international science and technology development.
The National Gene Expression and Biotechnology Training Workshop has been a highly successful annual training course for postgraduate students seeking supplementary grounding in the principles and application of molecular and cell biology techniques. About 100 students from 11 different universities have participated so far. There is no application fee, and lodging and board are free of charge. Thirty applicants will be selected for the 2016 session. Applications should be submitted online HERE.
American Society For Microbiology © 2016
Prof Teresa Coutinho
Dept of Microbiology and Plant Pathology
Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI)
University of Pretoria
Plant biomass-derived bioethanol is regarded as a leading alternative energy source in a fossil fuel dependent energy paradigm. Bioethanol functions as octane enhancer, and can be used to replace up to 15% of petrol. It also acts as a fuel oxygenate in petrol blends allowing more complete combustion and hence, decreased polluting emissions. The departments of Microbiology and Process Engineering at Stellenbosch University, through the South African Research Chair (SARChI) in Biofuels, are at the forefront of South African research to address the shortcomings of plant polysaccharide conversion to bioethanol. Strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae were engineered to simultaneously hydrolyse plant materials (cellulose and raw starch) and ferment the resulting monosaccharides through the development of enabling technologies such as advanced plant polysaccharides pretreatment and advanced Consolidated Bioprocessing (CBP). Simplification and cost-reduction of the hydrolysis-fermentation process can be further achieved by integrating superior enzymatic hydrolysis and fermentation with more robust yeast into a single unit operation. To achieve this, supportive bioinformatics research dedicated to solving current problems in bioethanol biotechnology, specifically improved industrial performance of yeast strains and improved catalytic efficiency of enzyme hydrolysis, remain key.
South African National Bioinformatics Institute (SANBI)and Institute for Microbial Biotechnology and Metagenomics (IMBM)
University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, SA
SASM Council is pleased to announce the names of awardees for Best Student Presentations at SASM2016.
Below is a list of microbiology conferences for 2016 to take note off. If you are aware of any other microbiology-related conferences, let us know!
The SASM Council would like to congratulate the following students on being recipients of the SASM2016 TRAVEL AWARD:
POSTDOCTORAL FELLOWSHIP on TB Transmission
Molecular Mycobacteriology Research Unit
Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine and Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences
Faculty of Health Sciences
University of Cape Town
1. Opening and Welcome
3. Minutes of the previous meeting
4. Approval of minutes of previous AGM
5. Matters arising
6. SASM 2013
a. Conference Report - Karl Rumbold
7. SASM Status Report
a. Finances – Koos Albertyn
b. Membership and membership fees – Karl Rumbold
c. Communications – Heinrich Volschenk
8. Election of new Council
9. Hosting of next SASM Congress
Be part of an exciting collaborative study involving regional and international collaboration between the University of Venda, Rhodes University (South Africa) and Phillips-Marburg University, Germany. The project is funded by the Germany Research Foundation (DFG) under the auspices of the Germany-Africa Collaboration in Infectology initiative.
Dear SASM member
Please note the following important society announcements:
The SASM 2016 Biennial Congress, organised by Durban University of Technology, is scheduled to take place from 17-20 January 2016 (in Coastlands, Umhlanga).
Here are some updates to take note of:
South Africans/permanent South African residence holders with a PhD in any of the following fields: Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, or Biotechnology are invited to apply for a postdoctoral position that has arisen in Prof. Shonhai’s laboratory based at the University of Venda, Limpopo.
The selected candidate will be required to conduct research on the role of heat shock proteins in the development and pathogenicity of malaria parasites. Prof. Shonhai is a recipient of a prestigious Georg Foster Fellowship awarded by the Alexander von Humboldt (Germany) and a National Research Foundation of South Africa C-rated scientist. His research is funded by the Germany Research Foundation (DFG), the National Research Foundation of South Africa and the University of Venda.
Prof. Shonhai’s lab boasts equipment such as gel imagers, 96 well plate readers with fluorescence and UV/VIS capabilities, thermo-controlled free standing centrifuges, SDS-PAGE, Western blot and agarose electrophoresis units, shaker incubators, etc. His lab team collaborates with colleagues based at several local institutions such as Witswatersrand University, University of Zululand, and Rhodes University. He also collaborates with groups based at Marburg University, Technical University of Munich and Karlsruhe, Germany.
In preparation for SASM2016, I am contacting you to nominate one student in your Department/School in each of the following categories:
Dear SASM member
The South African Society for Microbiology wishes to honour outstanding South African microbiologists who have contributed significantly to the discipline, both nationally and internationally.
CALL FOR NOMINATIONS, PRESTIGIOUS AWARDS
UNIVERSITY OF THE WITWATERSRAND
FACULTY OF SCIENCE
School of Molecular & Cell Biology
NORTH-WEST UNIVERSITY (POTCHEFSTROOM CAMPUS)
FACULTY OF NATURAL SCIENCES
SCHOOL OF BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
VACANCY: SENIOR LECTURER/ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR
UNIVERSITY OF THE WITWATERSRAND, JOHANNESBURG
FACULTY OF SCIENCE
SCHOOL OF MOLECULAR & CELL BIOLOGY
LECTURER/SENIOR LECTURER IN MICROBIOLOGY
SASM would like to bring the Biophysical Society Thematic Meeting on "Biophysics in the Understanding, Diagnosis and Treatment of Infectious Diseases” to your attention and would welcome your participation. I would be grateful if you would bring the meeting to the attention of your colleagues.
The National Research Foundation has awarded the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI): Biofuels and Other Clean Alternative Fuels to prof. WH (Emile) van Zyl at the Department of Microbiology, Stellenbosch University. The Research Chair focuses on the development of technologies for commercial production of secondgeneration bio-energy from lignocellulosic biomass in South Africa.
Over the past 30 years, he has made internationally recognised contributions to the field of molecular biology about microorganisms that can be used in biomining practices. He has been evaluated as an A-rated scientist by the National Research Foundation since 1992. It is the highest ranking that a South African scientist can receive, and recognises the person as an international leader in his or her specific field. In 2011 he was also rewarded the SASM Gold Medal for exceptional service to Microbiology over an extended period of time.
We asked Prof Rawlings some key questions about his career as a microbiologist.
The ASTER™ process is commercially used to bioremediate cyanide- (CN-) and thiocyanate- (SCN-) containing waste water, typically, from cyanidation of refractory gold ores. There are currently three industrial-scale ASTER™ processes in operation worldwide. This aerobic bioprocess reduces the CN- and SCN- concentrations to below 1 mg/L in a continuous system, facilitating reuse or safe discharge of process water. To date, the microbial consortia associated with this bioprocess have been poorly characterized and, as a result, the relative abundance and diversity of the community has been significantly under-represented. Researchers within the Centre for Bioprocess Engineering Research (CeBER) at the University of Cape Town, together with those at the University of California, Berkeley are employing a molecular approach, including 16S rRNA gene surveys and metagenomic analysis, to study CN- and SCN- biodegradation within laboratory-scale reactors.
Lepidopteran insects such as the false codling moth, Thaumatotibia leucotreta (Meyrick), the African bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera (Hübner), the codling moth (Cydia pomonella, L.), the potato tuber moth (Phthorimaea operculella (Zeller) and the diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella (L.) (Figure 1) are serious crop pests in South Africa, with considerable economic impact on various agricultural crops.
There has been growing focus on the potential to use gold nanoparticles as tools in the field of bionanotechnology because of their unique optical, electronic and molecular recognition properties. Gold nanoparticles are known to be fairly stable and are regarded as generally bio-compatible. However, some studies have reported that these nanoparticles could be toxic to some organisms, including bacteria. The mechanism by which gold nanoparticles may confer toxicity to E. coli cells remains to be fully understood.
Research into the molecular mechanisms of common yeasts and bacteria at the University of the Free State in South Africa seeks to exploit the roles of lipid molecules as instigators of disease symptoms towards development of new therapeutics and antifungal agents.
L-carnitine, a medically relevant, amino acid-derived molecule is a valuable target for biotechnological production. Researchers at the Institute for Wine Biotechnology, Stellenbosch University has recently provided the first report of a metabolically engineered carnitine producing strain of the industrial yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, an organism that does not natively produce its own carnitine. This was achieved by cloning and reconstructing the Neurospora crassa L-carnitine biosynthesis pathway in the baker’s yeast to create an L-carnitine producing strain. The engineered yeast strains are able to catalyze the synthesis of L-carnitine from the pathway’s precursor, trimethyllysine, as well as from intermediates. Several native S. cerevisiae genes were identified that contribute to, or interfere with, the heterologous pathway. This includes (i) the threonine aldolase Gly1p which effectively catalyzed the second step of the pathway, fulfilling the role of a serine hydroxymethyltransferase, (ii) the arginine transporter Can1p which was identified as the yeast transporter for trimethyllysine, and (iii) the two serine hydroxymethyltransferases, Shm1p and Shm2p, which reduced the flux through the heterologous pathway. The work opens opportunities for using an engineered, L-carnitine producing S. cerevisiae strain in various industrial applications.
A plant's survival is determined by its ability to tolerate stress that arises from physical, chemical and biological events. For example, nutrient limitation affects cellular functions, and consequently, plant development. This could be due to nutrient depletion or inaccessibility as nutrients such as phosphorus and iron could be locked up in complex compounds in the soil. In addition, plants have to withstand harsh environmental conditions such as heat, winds, torrent storms and drought. Disease-causing pathogens and pesticides are another threat that reduce a plant’s fitness.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus causes severe infections, especially in nosocomial environments. The cells are often deeply imbedded in biofilms, which makes treatment of the infections extremely difficult. Cells exposed to antibiotic levels below MIC (minimal inhibitory concentration) may develop resistance. The aim of this study was to develop a drug carrier that would keep antibiotic levels, in this case Ciprofloxacin, well above MIC for the duration of treatment. By electrospinning Ciprofloxacin into a nanofiber scaffold consisting of poly(D,L-lactide) (PDLLA) and poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO), the antibiotic was released within 2 h, killing 99% of P. aeruginosa and 91% of a methicillin-resistant strain of S. aureus in a biofilm. Ciprofloxacin, which remained intact, were released from the nanofibers for 7 days at levels above MIC. The nanofibers were not toxic when tested against MCF-12A breast epithelial cells. Antibiotic-filled nanofibers may be the answer to the eradication of P. aeruginosa and S. aureus biofilms.
A significant number of households in rural South Africa rely on roof-harvested rainwater (RHRW) for domestic purposes. Although, there is a general public health perception that RHRW is safe to drink, the presence of potential pathogens has been reported in this water source. Generally, the microbiological methods used to evaluate water quality depend on conventional culturing methods, which may underestimate total pathogen content and diversity and, thus limit the extent to which one can fully understand potential infectious risks from RHRW use. However, the use of high-throughput next-generation sequencing, (pyrosequencing) offers an alternative, in which detailed community structure can be achieved in combination with a fairly high taxonomic resolution. Not only does high-throughput next-generation sequencing allow for the detection and identification of dominant bacteria phylotype profiles within a sample but the high sequence numbers produced allows for the detection of rare species including pathogens within bacterial communities.
The St Lucia Estuary is part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is the largest estuarine system in Africa. This three-lake complex is particularly vulnerable to droughts and hypersaline conditions due to its large surface area (350 km2) and shallow water depth (average depth 0.9 m). A widespread bloom of the unicellular cyanobacterium Cyanothece sp. appeared in June 2009 and persisted for 18 months within the two northern basins of St Lucia (False Bay and North Lake). This was the first recorded bloom of this genus globally.
The quality of the essential commodity water is being compromised by contaminants originating from anthropogenic sources, industrial activities, and agriculture amongst others. Water scarcity and severe drought in many regions of the world also represents a significant challenge to the availability of this resource. Domestic rainwater harvesting (DRWH), which involves the collection and storage of water from rooftops and diverse surfaces, is successfully implemented worldwide as a sustainable water supplement. In South Africa, a water-scarce country, the use of domestic rainwater harvesting is predominantly practised by communities situated in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. While the use of DRWH tank systems can definitely suffice and serve as an alternative water supply, there is a health risk associated with the use of this water source for drinking purposes, especially if the water is used untreated. Currently the information available on the microbial and chemical quality of harvested rainwater in South Africa is limited.
Antibiotic resistance in bacterial pathogens is a major cause of concern for modern medicine, as this renders these “miracle drugs” ineffective. The accidental discovery of penicillin in 1928 by Alexander Fleming and the countless lives saved by this antibiotic in the 1940’s pioneered modern medicine. However, injudicious use of penicillin and various other antibiotics has caused a major problem in the treatment of “once easily treatable” bacterial infections. A marked increase in antibiotic-resistant pathogens has been reported over the last few decades, including the well-known methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The emergence of multi-drug resistant bacteria has amplified this problem. Antibiotic resistance is causing a regression back to a “pre-antibiotic era” where a minor scrape or cut can lead to a battle between life and death. Skin is our first line of defence against the onslaught of various pathogens causing infection; it plays a role in thermoregulation and maintaining of homeostasis in addition to having immunological, neurosensory and metabolic functions. Severe skin damage, however, exposes underlying tissue to microbial invasion which can easily progress into severe life threatening infections if not treated successfully.
Very few people know that the smell from wet soil on a rainy day is due to the presence of a compound called geosmin. This compound is produced by a variety of soil dwelling actinobacterial strains. Actinobacteria are amazing microorganisms and have been exploited over the past century for their ability to produce antibiotics, enzymes, antioxidants and pigments.
The University of the Western Cape is partner of a large-scale, four-year project launched in October 2012 called PharmaSea funded by the EU. The UWC team is led by Prof Marla Tuffin, Acting Director of the Institute for Microbial Biotechnology and Metagenomics (IMBM), and in collaboration with Prof Michael Davies-Coleman.The collaborative project PharmaSea will bring European researchers to some of the deepest, coldest and hottest places on the planet. Scientists from the UK, Belgium, Norway, Spain, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Denmark will work together to collect and screen samples of mud and sediment from huge, previously untapped, oceanic trenches. The large-scale, four-year project is backed by more than €9.5 million of EU funding and brings together 24 partners from 14 countries from industry, academia and non-profit organisations.
Economic growth and stability, standard of living, social inclusion, development of human capital, critical infrastructure, urbanization, industrialization, human rights and jobs for the nation are among the ideals and realities faced by most nations and governments in our current world. However, the benefits of economic welfare are frequently accompanied by increased pressure on the natural environment and resources. High levels and volumes of pollution and waste are released into marine ecosystems, especially near urban areas. Taking into account that 21 of the 33 mega cities of the world are located on coastlines, high volume discharges present a major threat to the health and well-being of marine life, including cetacean species.