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.
The Bacterial Genomics and Host Pathogen Interactions group is based at the University of Pretoria, Forestry, Agriculture and Biotechnology Institute. Our research focuses on the interaction on potato plant interactions with one of their major bacteria pathogens Soft Rot Enterobacteriaceae (SRE). To understand these interactions we use genomics, transcriptomics, and other ‘omics’ to identify bacterial virulence factors as well as elucidate host defence mechanisms being targeted by these virulence factors. The following projects are currently available in the research group.
The The International Committee on Food Microbiology and Hygiene (ICFMH) Mobility Grants initiative is aimed to promote the mobility of young researchers between research institutions which are active in the field of food microbiology and hygiene.
PLANT BIOTECHNOLOGY LABORATORY, SCHOOL OF MOLECULAR AND CELL BIOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF THE WITWATERSRAND
START DATE: 2015 (AS SOON AS POSSIBLE)
REQUIREMENTS: Both student positions require the appropriate qualifications and should preferably be South African permanent residents or citizens. The background required to do this project would be microbiology (preferably some plant virology); molecular biology; some plant background and some knowledge and practice of general plant transformation and tissue culture. Some basic bioinformatics is also required.
Two postodctoral fellowships at University of Fort Hare. See details below:
The successful candidate will join the Microbiology Subject Group of the Environmental Science and Management Research Unit at the Potchefstroom Campus of the North-West University to contribute towards applications of Next-Generation Sequencing (microbial metagenomics, annotation of small genomes, transcriptome assemblies) in Microbiology or related biological field.
LECTURER/SENIOR LECTURER/ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR/PROFESSOR IN THE DEPARTMENT OF MICROBIOLOGY AND BIOCHEMISTRY
CONTRACT UNTIL: 31/12/2018
Two MSc and 1 PhD projects are available for 2015, which will focus on Drug Discovery from Marine and Plant Natural Products in the Discipline Microbiology, University of KwaZulu-Natal.
DEPARTMENT OF BIOCHEMISTRY, MICROBIOLOGY AND BIOTECHNOLOGY
FACULTY OF SCIENCE AND AGRICULTURE, UNIVERSITY OF LIMPOPO
Applications are invited for the position of Associate Professor/ Senior Lecturer in Biochemistry.
One of the objectives of SASM is to enhance access to knowledge in the various microbiological disciplines and to create channels of communication between our members who share common interests. In an effort to accomplish this, we maintain this blog updated with regular SASM-related news. We also interact with our members via several social media channels including Twitter, Facebook or Google+.
UNIVERSITY OF THE WITWATERSRAND, JOHANNESBURG
FACULTY OF SCIENCE
PROFESSOR/ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR (MICROBIOLOGY/MOLECULAR BIOLOGY)
SCHOOL OF MOLECULAR & CELL BIOLOGY
The School of Molecular and Cell Biology seeks an established academic to make a dynamic contribution to the discipline of Microbiology & Biotechnology and will be expected to take on both academic and administrative tasks within the School. S/he will also undertake independent focused research within areas such as microbiology, molecular biology, biotechnology or bioinformatics.
TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. The Cape Town event is called TEDxCapeTown. Here are some recent talks by SASM members at TEDxCapeTown.
We would like to extend an open invitation to all SASM members to make contributions to our blog. Let's embark on a crowd-sourcing exercise for new content, if you like! All that is required for blog articles is a one pager (1 X A4) with sound scientific writing and some eye-catching photographs or graphics. The content could be “almost anything” microbiology-related, for example:
Interested applicants should send a letter of motivation, CV, certified copy of highest degree, and the contact details of three references to:
Prof Marla Trindade (Tuffin), Acting Director of IMBM, UWC.
Application closing date: 25 September 2014.
Position available as of 1 November 2014.
Remember the Bela-Bela Forever Resorts Warmbaths and SASM2013 conference?
Here are the links to the presentations and images:
PowerPoint presentations (only viewable in Google Chrome browser)
The Craig Venter Institute built a synthetic bacterial genome, and George Church, Farren Isaacs and colleagues have engineered the E. coli genome using an innovative platform called MAGE and genome synthesis methods. Now the focus is on the first eukaryote, the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. This organism has 16 linear chromosomes and a relatively compact (~14Mb total; ~12 Mb nonredundant) and well-understood genome. The synthetic yeast genome can be used to answer a wide variety of profound questions about fundamental properties of chromosomes, genome organization, gene content, function of RNA splicing, the extent to which small RNAs play a role in yeast biology, the distinction between prokaryotes and eukaryotes, and questions relating to genome structure and evolution. The availability of a fully synthetic genome will allow direct testing of evolutionary questions not otherwise approachable. The eventual “synthetic yeast” being designed and refined could eventually play an important practical role. Yeasts, and S. cerevisiae in particular, are preeminent organisms for industrial fermentations, with a wide variety of practical uses including ethanol production from agricultural products and by-products.
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 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.