We are looking for a capable and energetic PhD student to work on a multidisciplinary project on the microbiome of wheat under Conservation Agriculture. The project will involve high throughput amplicon sequencing and qPCR methods, among others. The project is funded by the NRF, and there is a bursary available, however, preference will be given to students who already have their own bursary. The ideal candidate should have completed a MSc degree in Microbiology, Genetics or Biochemistry or any related field with a strong background in molecular biology. Preference will also be given to South African citizens.
Identifying novel DNA modifying enzymes by functional metagenomics
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.
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.
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 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.